I just finished this (and liked it), so Abe is on my mind. Did you know that Lincoln's original proposal was for slavery in the U.S. to be phased out by 1900? He personally was an abolitionist, but prior to and even during much of the civil war, thought emancipation wasn't politically feasible. It wasn't until it became a war of conquest that he reconceptualized the elimination of slavery as a means of undermining the South's war effort. He held out the promise of manumission and hundreds of thousands of "contrabands" fled North to take up arms against their former masters, depriving the rebellion of critical farm labor. But fighting the war in order to free blacks was deeply unpopular in the North, where even Republicans were overwhelmingly more concerned with reuniting the Union (and where whites generally were nearly as racist as the Southern traitors themselves). Lincoln had to walk a political tightrope to maintain Northern public support for the war. Eventually he found the right personnel in Grant, Sherman and Sheridan to smash the Confederacy and reunite the country, and the end of slavery became a happy byproduct of the successful end of the war. But Lincoln would have much preferred to avoid the war in the first place and leave black people enslaved for another 40 years, if the South had only agreed to it.
Compare that to the point Kevin Drum makes about community rating, "a requirement that health insurers cover everyone at the same price, regardless of preexisting conditions or health status." Drum says:
It would be nice to have a public option in the current legislation since it would probably speed up the process I'm talking about. But ... community rating plus universal access makes private insurers obsolete. Soon they'll be doing nothing but basic administrative work, and within a few years this will become too obvious to ignore. At that point, Congress will either enact a public option that eventually grows large enough to put private insurance out of business, or else regulation of the private industry will grow to the point where it becomes a nonissue. It's too bad we'll have to wait so long for this to happen, but today's healthcare legislation puts it on the road to inevitability.
Of course, some people find this kind of gradualism unbearable, a betrayal. Good thing bloggers weren't around in 1862. Horace Greeley was bad enough.