Sometime before the turn of the century… (I wrote it that way to make it sound long, long ago), there was an incipient movement to expand school-based health centers in America’s most needy public schools. The argument then – still valid now – was that many poor kids lacked access to basic health care, and that taking health services to the kids, as opposed to taking the kids to the emergency room or a doctor’s office, made a lot of sense.
It was seen politically as a liberal idea – another government-funded attempt to mend the safety net for the poor, with very little support from more conservative policy makers. Except in Los Angeles, where two local politicians – one very progressive and the other very conservative – joined forces, and took their advocacy on the road, all over the country. Their message was simple: we may agree on very little, but we agree on the need for opportunity for all our children, and there’s no opportunity for anything if your child is sick or living with an untreated chronic condition.
These two women were strange bedfellows – ideological opposites who found common ground on one topic, and parlayed their singular bond to become far more powerful advocates than either could have been with just their political allies.