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I’ve heard the story only a few times.  It doesn’t come out often.  Not one of those stories you hear over and over again at every family gathering or on somebody’s birthday.  Just need to hear it once, maybe twice, and you don’t forget.

I’ve dated my girlfriend for a long time and I know just how painful it is to re-live those moments, so the story has only been told a few times.  I remember the agony in her voice when she talked about the wait.  I remember the pain in her voice when she talked about her mother.  And I remember the relief in her voice when she talked about the end.  You see, her little sister was born with a congenital heart disorder – basically the little girl’s heart was turned the wrong way, missing a valve and had a hole in it.  Little chance to survive, but a lot of hope.  Obama-type hope.  After one open heart surgery at six months old, like after the 2008 South Carolina primary, the hope became real.  And after the second open heart surgery at age 10, the one where the story comes from, even more hope, and now dreams. Dreams of a normal life.  Dreams of boyfriends and a high school prom.  Dreams of college degrees and dreams of children.

Over the years of dating her older sister, I have watched this young girl grow up into becoming a woman.  I have witnessed her fear of her last open heart surgery, which needs to happen in the coming years, and I cried when she introduced her 84 year old heart doctor at her wedding this past summer.  Her life is delicate.  Her life is fragile.  But, yet her life is normal.  Except for one thing.  But, hopefully that one thing is about to change.

For the past 23 years, although hope turned to dreams, her dreams still couldn’t quite rest on the highest cloud in the sky.   They were somehow stuck, somehow unable to break through that first layer of those white, beautiful formations.  They were stuck, because she has a pre-existing condition.  A condition that no insurance company wants to cover.  So, when she thinks “maybe I’ll be an artist!”  Think again.  When she thinks “maybe, I’ll be an entrepreneur!”  Think again.  When she thinks, “maybe I’ll take a chance, and run for President!”  Think again.  Everyone wants to believe that the “American Dream” is real and that anyone can obtain it…but when your dreams are restricted, how real can it be?  The way things stand now, this beautiful, young lady can never have a job where health insurance is an issue.  She, like millions of Americans, millions of woman who have survived breast cancer, millions of children who were born with diabetes, millions of men who luckily beat prostate cancer, these millions of incredible, patriotic Americans are stuck.  They are afraid to leave their jobs, they are afraid to start their own businesses and their dreams always stay just dreams, because healthcare in America, at some point, became a privilege and not a right.

So, now we stand at the gates of history.  Now, we stand at the brink of the cloud lining, trying to push through millions of dreams.  We know where the Republicans stand.  They have made that clear.  But, somehow, someway, within our own ranks, we have forgotten how progress is made.  Many of my dear, fellow progressive friends have taken an all or nothing approach.  It is during times like these, that we must remember the words of the late Senator Ted Kennedy when he said “we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”  So, when you say “kill the bill,” remember you just might be killing someone’s ability to dream.

-Michael Skolnik

Political Director to

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