Even though it doesn't have a chance of passing (there's not an elected Republican in America that would vote for it), the Democrats are embracing Bernie's "Medicare for All" bill.
Emboldened by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat, and the Republican effort to dismantle former President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law, progressive lawmakers and activists are trying to move single payer into the party mainstream. There are signs the idea is winning traction: For the first time ever, a majority of House Democrats have signed up to support “Medicare for all” single-payer legislation, a threshold crossed in the aftermath of the presidential election. A number of influential Senate Democrats have also expressed support for single payer in the midst of the current Republican health-care push, which is now in doubt as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushes for an Obamacare repeal vote.
No, seriously. Thank you President Barack Hussein Obama.
What? Did you think Bernie Sanders deserves all the credit? He's been talking about single payer for decades (to his credit) but that went nowhere. Hillary tried it back in the 90s (in case you had forgotten) and was brutally slapped down. Even Nixon, yes, Richard Nixon the Republican, toyed around with the idea. But no matter who pushed for it, America was not ready for single payer healthcare.
Do you really need to ask what changed the public's perception? America was, in terms of healthcare, phenomenally clueless. We used to think that the socialism of single payer for everyone was pure evil while loving it for senior citizens. We didn't even know what "single payer" meant. We were convinced that healthcare was a luxury, not a right. If you didn't have it, tough noogies on you, pal.
And then came along Obamacare.
Ironically, if Republicans had not gone to total war against it, they could have sold the ACA as a free market solution to healthcare. It would have passed with little fuss and people would have gone about their business giving very little thought to their insurance. They might have noticed the improvements but it wouldn't have left much of an impression. Healthcare just wasn't something on our national radar.
But Republicans were so gung ho to destroy Obama and deny him any kind of legislative victory, much less a bipartisan one, they made healthcare the only thing people talked about for years on end. Their mistake was that the old, and very broken, system required mass ignorance to stay in place. If people didn't talk to each other about how bad their insurance was, they'd never realize how bad their insurance was. It's very 1984, but limiting language works. If you don't know how to talk about single payer, or even know what it is, how can you demand it? If there is no conversation about ways to make healthcare better, how will you know if what you have is terrible? A blind man won't decide to get prettier wallpaper until he can see how ugly his room is.
The end result was that people started to really talk about healthcare in America and because Obamacare's foundational premise was that everyone has a right to it, it radically altered the public's perception. Where once we considered healthcare a privilege, we now, for the first time in American history, consider it a right. When Republicans bragged about taking it away from millions, people freaked out, including Republican voters.
In 2010, the Democratic Party was brutally punished for its "government takeover of healthcare" despite the fact that Obamacare was anything but. It was political suicide for any but the safest politicians to discuss actual single payer healthcare. But now the conversation has shifted so much that it's safe to not only talk about it as a politician but to vote for it. Exactly what Obama wanted and the exact opposite of what Republicans set out to do. Ha. Ha. Ha.
Bernie's bill will fail, of course. Republicans control Congress and they would literally set the building on fire before voting for it. But the contrast will be set in stone forever. The Democratic Party is the party of getting people healthcare and the GOP is the party of taking it away to give tax cuts to billionaires.
Which side of those campaign ads do you want to be on?
Bernie lit the fuse but Obama built the bomb. Give credit where credit is due.
There are 418 days left to the 2018 elections.
- This article kills fascists
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