Wednesday, April 7, 2010

An Open Letter to My Neighbor, Gov. Haley Barbour

Dear Governor Barbour,

As I sit here at home during this noon hour, gazing out over the manicured lawn of your ceremonial home, I can't help but ponder the monumental strides we as a nation made last month with the passage of health care insurance reform, and your subsequent response.  It deeply troubles me, and I'll explain why.

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have parents who could protect me with health insurance coverage.  That insurance coverage gave me access to health care that, on two separate occasions, saved my very life.

This morning, I spent some time at Callaway High School here in Jackson. As I spoke to the children assembled there about making responsible choices in life, I could not help but think of the high likelihood that most of them would benefit greatly from the passage of health care insurance reform.  Afterwards, driving back through Jackson towards my office, I considered how some of the children I laughed with this morning would no doubt face medical problems that would now be addressed adequately only because of the legislation Congress passed last month.  And I was grateful.

Shortly after I returned to the office, I received word of a T.E.A. Party rally in Tupelo, at which a reported 1,500 people gathered to complain about taxes and the loss of their "freedom."  This growing movement of people dissatisfied with what they perceive to be unnecessary taxes fueled by wasteful government spending is no doubt appealing to you as an aspiring 2012 GOP presidential nominee.  I do not begrudge you that.  I do, however, take issue with you fighting the health care insurance reform that will forever improve the lives of the children I met with this morning.

As leader of one of our nation's most impoverished states, it must be troubling to you to be forced between taking positions that are best for Mississippi, and those that are popular within your party.  Health care insurance reform is undoubtedly a blessing for our fellow Mississippians.  It is equally certain that supporting it would damage any hopes you have for national office.  I truly empathize with you, and wish that you were not forced to choose between your personal aspirations and the good of your people.  However, my empathy, and almost certainly the compassion of history, fades when you choose poorly.

Governor, I ask that you not make the poor of Mississippi blood sacrifices on the altar of your presidential campaign.  End your threat to join the Florida lawsuit, and support the program that ensures our fellow Mississippians will have access to the medical care that will save their lives.

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