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This week, the U.S. Supreme Court took up the debate over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act [ACA], the national health insurance coverage scheme dubbed "Obamacare" that was passed into law in 2010 by a slim margin, and only after much controversy and partisan debate. The nine Justices are debating different aspects of the law, and their verdict will ultimately decide whether or not one of Obama's signature legislative achievements will survive his presidency.
Both supporters and opponents of the law descended on Washington, D.C., this week to attend the various rallies taking place over the ACA. Conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity held a "Hands off My Healthcare" rally to drum up the Tea Party opposition; Obama supporters staged their own rally touting the benefits of the ACA in coverage of women's healthcare.
Naturally, iReporters were there as it all went down, and captured some great photographs and on-the-ground flavor of the dueling protests.
Conservative firebrands Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sen. Rand Paul were on-hand at the Americans for Prosperity rally across the street from the Senate yesterday. Photographer Michael Kandel said that their speechifying delivered plenty of the usual red meat and "Republican talking points about health care that we've all heard before." He also notes that Bachmann and Paul "made sure to mention that Obama was out of the country on the second anniversary of the ACA."
Armando Gallardo had a prime view of the dueling camps when they staged simultaneous protests on the steps of the Supreme Court yesterday. He estimates that around 150 people showed up in total, and that the pro-ACA protesters had a slight numerical edge over their conservative counterparts.
Despite the charged nature of the debate, Gallardo said there was plenty of good will to go around. "It really surprised me how respectful both camps were of each other, no one was nasty or called each other names, it was surprisingly positive," he said.
iReporter Felix Masi has a personal stake in the ongoing debate over health care in the U.S., which is why he showed up to document the protest at the Supreme Court yesterday: "We have a 13-year-old with sickle cell," he said. If the Supreme Court renders a verdict that strikes down the ACA, his child may no longer be covered by insurance.
"You come to Uncle Sam, who has over 40 million people without health insurance," he said. "That means if you have over 40 million people without medical cover, it’s like a country without security. To me, strong security for a country is to make sure the people are not hopeless. People have a solid ground in that if they are sick, they’re not just going to die on the streets."
Did you attend any of the pro- or anti-ACA protests this week? Or do you have an opinion on healthcare that you're burning to share with the world? Now's the time to get in on the debate.
Super Tuesday has come and gone, and iReporters of every political stripe had similar reactions: Yawn. With Mitt Romney still unable to unify a fragmented conservative base, and none of his rivals able to break away as a clear challenger to Romney's frontrunner status, the race looks set to drag on for weeks to come.
Katy Brown is a senior at Ohio's Kent State University, and was one of iReport’s regular conservative commentators during the 2008 election campaign. This year, she decided not to vote in her state's primary because none of the candidates appealed to her.
"Romney is so disconnected from the reality of the life of an average American," she said. "Ron Paul is too out there, I guess that's the best way to put it. Gingrich, I feel, disappeared. And Santorum is too religion- and Tea Party-based for me."
Conservative iReporter William Bernstein from Virginia Beach, Virginia, also didn't vote in his state's Super Tuesday primary. "I am just not sure about either of the presidential candidates in the running right now, but hopefully that will be cleared up by the general election this fall," he said, referring to GOP hopefuls Romney and Rick Santorum. "On the ballot here in Virginia is only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, so even then, not much of a choice."
Matt Zieminski of Redding, California, was less kind, dubbing the four remaining GOP contenders "The Four Stooges" for their performances. "As long as Romney cannot get Republican voters to rally around him and his ideas, and as long as the three remaining candidates stay in the race, the delegate count will continue to be spread thin," he said.
And Longtime iReport commentator Adriana Maxwell of Atlanta, Georgia thinks that despite Romney's inability to quickly wrap up the nomination, he's almost certainly going to be his party's nominee. "It's the Republican Party's turn not to field a strong team," she said, likening Romney's situation to the GOP's nomination of Senator Bob Dole in the 1996 presidential election.
All of this raises an even bigger question: Why isn’t Romney resonating with some Republican voters? It's a topic that's going to be on everyone's mind in the coming weeks, and we want to hear your personal views.