President Obama reached back nearly 100 years in our nation’s history—to Teddy Roosevelt’s Square Deal from the 1912 presidential campaign—to demonstrate how long American political agendas (both Republican and Democrat) have listed expanding health care coverage as a key reform. The push to pass healthcare reform was a hard slog, but the President prevailed, using the past to help achieve his vision for the future.

The history of healthcare reform in America, as with the history of just about anything, is hardly simple. The ballooning cost of Medicare and Medicaid over the years, for instance, was cited by the healthcare bill’s opponents as a cautionary tale. Rather than ignore or explain away this inconvenient bit of history, the President put bad news to good use. He and his supporters in Congress cited recent decades’ rising healthcare costs to justify major cost-containment aspects of the bill.

It’s no surprise that we talk a lot about history at The History Factory. But we often surprise clients when we advise them to start with the future and work back.™ Imagine the goals you want to achieve. Then let’s talk about what aspects of your history—the successes as well as the challenges—we can leverage to help make that vision a reality.

The President made history his story. And in the end he made history.