Health care advocates can learn from the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

If you’re a health care advocate, you’re looking for any good news you can find. This article looks to the first Civil Rights Act, the one from 1957. The one you’ve never heard of. It was watered-down legislation, embarrassing in its ineffectiveness.

Sometimes the gates of history swing on small hinges, as the saying goes. The 1957 Civil Rights Act was a preposterously small hinge that helped swing open a very wide gate. It’s not out of the question that a pared-down health care bill might do the same.

That bill from 1957 laid the ground work for the successful Civil Rights Act of 1964 by bringing the issues to the attention of the nation. When you look at it that way, it wasn’t a waste at all. If that’s what it takes to get decent health care for America, then so be it.

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