One of the most inspiring moments for me at the Democratic National Convention -- a moment that set the tone for the entire event -- happened the very first morning.
Rod Smith, Chair of the Florida Democratic Party stood up in front of the Florida delegation and told us that his 25-year-old son, Dillon, was recently diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that usually strikes children. He has undergone his first round of chemotherapy, and the family is optimistic.
The inspiration came when Rod described how the health care reform passed by President Obama may end up saving Dillon’s life.
Without the Affordable Care Act, Dillon who is in his last year of law school would not be on his family's insurance plan, he would have his coverage capped, and the care he needs might not be accessible or affordable.
"The richest country in the world cannot survive without universal, affordable, available health care. Every Democratic president since Harry Truman has recognized that, and every Republican presidential candidate has opposed it," Smith thundered.
"And if there's one reason we ought to win this election, and there are so many, we need to take the message out there: Affordable Health Care will affect your life. It's happened to me. Take that message out there." (Tampa Bay Times)
There are millions of stories like this across America. But to hear a personal story from someone you know brings the message home – the message that we are better off, and that the things government does make a real difference in people’s lives. In fact for some it can be the difference between life and death.
I will never forget the emotion in the room that morning, and how it reinforced our belief we were doing the right thing by supporting President Obama. Health care reform – as with so many other issues – is not about dollars and cents so much as it is about people’s lives.
Government and our political choices must be driven by compassion and concern for people. President Obama understands that. Democrats understand that. And that is why I am proud to be a Democrat.