Medicare-for-all and the New Democratic Party

I never thought I’d see the day: “Urgency grows for single-payer health system.” The front page headline of this newspaper on July 19th. The story went on: “With polls showing a majority of Americans holding unfavorable views of plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the conversation about replacing the current system with a single-payer or Medicare-for-all system is heating up.”

Apparently this is an unintended consequence of the Republicans’ hapless insistence on getting rid of Obamacare. The basic logic has apparently begun to sink in : Oh yes, please, please get rid of Obamacare. But whatever you do, don’t get rid of its benefits (universal coverage, no pre-existing clauses). The only way you get those benefits and get rid of Obamacare is, as all of the first-world ally nations figured out a long time ago, single-payer. Medicare for all.

It’s dawning on us: if we love Medicare, which polls have all along shown we do, we will love Medicare -for-all.

In September Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris introduced a “Medicare-for-all” bill in the Senate. To start it had only 16 supporters, one-third of the democrats in the Senate (and of course no Republicans) and is given by most no chance to get enacted. But that puts Congress way behind its constituents (as in so many issues these days). In a Pew poll in June, “60% say the federal government is responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans.”

According to another poll cited in Forbes and Newsweek, doctors, long in oppositon, are now “overwhelmingly in support of a single-payer health care system.”

Ideas are so important in determining how things go. ] The key idea here is that healthcare is a human right. Suddenly, more of us are getting it: if roads and police and national parks, and emergency natural disaster help are all, uncontroversially, human rights, surely that most basic of human needs, healthcare, is a human right. A right and not a privilege for those who can afford it. Of all the rights we the people want our government to guarantee,–the very reasons we found and support a government– healthcare, which seems part and parcel of that member of the founding trio of self-evident rights, “life,” is, if anything, the most important.

 And in order for “healthcare is a human right” to be taking hold, the ideas (attitudes, prejudices, depending on your point of view) which have long worked against single-payer, must be receding. ( ”No way I want my tax money supporting my lazy fellow humans; ” “U.S. healthcare is the envy of the world..”)

That this new thought—healthcare is a human right– is suddenly thinkable: what momentous progress. And what a great cornerstone for the New Democratic Party.

Speaking of which, where is it? As one of the out-of-power majority, I keep waiting. I get unending emails from Our Revolution, from Indivisible, from MoveOn, asking for signatures for yet another petition against the latest outrage and for contributions to the cause. But too much of this outpouring seems reactive to Trumpism. It’s a year since the disastrous election. Are we not ready to start modeling the alternative to Trump?

Where is the great coordination of these well-meaning splinter efforts in a New Democratic Party, based on a clear and rousing critique of the old Democratic Party. A NDP that will remake the majority into a force to take back the country asap from the disaster of Trump. The sooner we get carismatic, progressive candidates–if not our Senator Warren, then Kamala Harris or Corey Booker– out there the better.

It’s time for a New Democratic Party, a clear party of the future. With ”healthcare is a human right” as its rallying cry.


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