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Malcolm X and Health Care Reform

March 8, 2011

When reading Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet”, it brought me back to the 2008 election and health care reform. In 2008, the citizens of the USA used their ballot rights to make a difference. The people changed the political party in power to a democratic controlled government. The executive and legislative branch were now controlled by the democratic party. One of the goals of the Obama administration was to have health care reform. Health care reform acts were passed just over a year ago today. These reforms were made possible by the people’s will to use their right to vote. This is similar to Malcolm X’s speech, in which he encourages the African American’s to use the power of the ballot to make a difference and extend their rights. The civil rights act of 1964 and the voting rights act of 1965 came about during the time of his speech. The African American’s used their rights to alter the course of government and create new laws in their favor. This is what happened in 2008 with the presidential and congressional elections. The people wanted a change and a new agenda for the government. They used their rights to the ballot and found results.

  1. John D'Adamo permalink
    March 8, 2011 1:00 PM

    Malcolm X is a really interesting figure in that originally, he used a much more violent approach to achieving his ends before mellowing and embracing more of the values of MLK and nonviolence after making a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1964. I really liked your post, Laura, because it does highlight the ‘ballot’ approach. I followed the 2008 election pretty intensely throughout the whole thing, and there was a clear movement for change in this country headed by Barack Obama and the Democrats. Health care reform being enacted in 2009, as flawed as many thought it was, was a clear victory for that change movement, as was credit card reform, tobacco reform, Lilly Ledbetter, reduction of the US and Russian nuclear arsenals, and most recently the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the refusal of the Justice Department to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. The ballot approach for change has clearly had an impact.

    • Layne Simescu permalink
      March 15, 2011 11:32 PM

      I like that you bring up the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the refusal of the Defense of Marriage act. In 1964, the issue that Malcolm X was striving for in Ballot or the Bullet was rights for African Americans. In 2008, the issues that many Americans strived for in their Ballots were not only about health care, but also equal rights for Americans with different sexual orientations. Malcolm X represented hope for African Americans and Obama was the modern representation of hope for the equality of all Americans, no matter wealth or sexual orientation. Obama was the leader for the modern Ballot or the Bullet, except not sooo much the bullet.

  2. timothyhall permalink
    March 8, 2011 6:36 PM

    I totally agree with the original post, and I think there are many other connections one could make between the 2008 election’s relation to healthcare reform and the nature of “The Ballot or the Bullet”, one being the necessity of having a charismatic and focused leader to motivate and direct the nation, around whom we can rally. In 1964 it was Malcolm X who outlined succinctly what exactly needed to happen for African American citizens to initiate change in governmental policy toward civil rights, which was the voting process, and if not, violent revolution. As most citizens don’t have a pointedly violent disposition, nor would they rather violence to governmental process as long as results were produced, this call for the bullet if the ballot was ineffective motivated African Americans to give a concentrated effort toward legislative process, which at long last yielded results, or at least the foundation upon which they could progressively build toward them. In President Obama’s case, the goal was healthcare reform, and though its proponents knew it was the goal, they still needed him to provide a common plan, or at least a candidate that held this view in common. Though the idea and its proponents existed before him, he was necessary for its success as was Malcolm X for the civil rights movement.

  3. Jeremy Kucera permalink
    March 20, 2011 7:28 PM

    It is an interesting claim that you make when you say that the people who voted for Obama ini 2008 were voting for health care reform. I think this claim is a bit problematic because you cannot assume that every person who voted for Obama would support health care reform. Some people may have voted for him because they really liked some of his other policies, or because they were just anti-Republican, or Obama’s message of hope inspired them. The point is we really don’t know why people vote for who they do. I know this is hard to believe, but some citizens vote for people for reasons most seem to think are ridiculous. Believie or not, some people did vote for Obama just because they wanted to see the first African American president in their lifetime. Also, people had just as ridiculous reasons for voting for John Mccain. The point I’m trying to make is that one cannot assume anyone who votes for a candidate is 100 percent supporting all of their policies. Sometimes candidates don’t even express what they are going to do once they are elected, so we cannot attribute a candidate’s policies to all of the people who voted for that candidate. I’m sure there was a fair share of Obama’s voters who do support this health care reform, but I’m equally as sure that there are others who do not.

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