Jackson, Medicare for All is playing for keeps


Medicare for All is for keeps

by Eric Jackson

I’m a democratic socialist. Have been all of my adult life. It runs in the family, too.

I’m a Democrat. I worked for Democratic campaigns well before I could vote, and have fought in the intra-Democrat wars that have shifted folks in and out of the party and back over a very long time.

It often imparts a jaded point of view. What all factions need to bear in mind, especially but not only entrenched establishment types, is that you don’t play hardball and then complain about the pickoff play.

In the 2020 presidential election cycle, some ideas that Bernie Sanders popularized now have so much public support that candidates of the corporate wing are embracing them or saying that they do. What Americans call the liberals – the word has a different set of meanings here in Panama and in most of the rest of the world – are mostly on board with the left about Medicare for All.

Draw the fine distinctions, which are important, but the left should not get upset about other factions stealing our thunder. That The New York Times and The Washington Post churn out a steady stream of attacks on Medicare for All and vilification of Bernie Sanders and other prominent leaders of the left should only surprise the clueless. The world’s richest man’s paper, and the Gray Lady, are owned by and dependent on the support of people whose interest is not labor, nor the rights and conveniences of those who don’t have a lot of money. They’re corporate media promoting those interests. The Post in particular is the journal of people who may be for legal abortion but hardly ever see an opportunity for a foreign war that they don’t like.

The United States has a two-party system, and within those parties there are forces that in most other countries would be on the ballot in their own right in a fragmented parliamentary system. On the GOP side, the religious right is not exactly the oligarchy, nor exactly the white supremacist movement – even if all of these forces shade into and mix with one another. Among Democrats Bernie and AOC are definitely not Joe Biden, but neither are they Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris. After the primary wars are over there will need to be some sincere negotiations, much like coalition talks in a multi-party system.

Democratic socialists may become the principal force within the Democratic Party but the party itself will not become “socialist” as such. The left might lead the coalition and pull the country in that direction. Any attempt by one faction to spit out or spit upon the others means a low turnout and probable loss to the Republicans. The sometimes forgotten name of the general election game is uniting the party, mobilizing the entire Democratic coalition and its constituencies to vote.

This is a new election cycle. Now there’s a new source of bitterness.

See, Medicare for All would be the enduring replacement for a compromise that fell short. Pass it as a meaningful program rather than a slogan emptied of its content and the private health insurance industry goes out of business forever. The pharmaceutical companies would lose their tight grip on the US economy too. Medicare for All is a death sentence for a way of doing business. If some complain about how unfair that would be, consider all of the individuals who have been sentenced to death by the for-profit health care business model.

If America gets Medicare for All, there will still be politics around expanding it, or on the GOP side chipping away at it. Once enacted there would be arguments about making it more efficient or just. However, it would never end as long as the USA doesn’t end.

Politically, Medicare for All would be like Social Security – a platform plank that less radical Democrats of an earlier time swiped from the Socialists. Social Security became a centerpiece of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s program and has survived. Social Security is too popular, and too essential to the lives of too many people, for very many people to run for office on a platform of ending it and get elected. When the day comes that health care is a right for all Americans, woe to the candidate who runs on an argument that certain Americans don’t deserve it.

So, much of corporate America is searching high and low for a person or a method to stop not only Bernie Sanders, but more importantly his ideas.

(One of the nay sayers’ weaknesses? Not all of the corporate world is on board with them. Private health insurance is a burden on business too.)

Did Kamala Harris in an instant destroy Joe Biden’s pretense of inevitability by bringing up his record on race relations? We are likely to see as dramatic a moment or series of moments when the line is drawn between those who are for the private health insurance companies and those who would cut out that expensive and often brutal filter between doctors and patients.

Medicare for All is for keeps. A lot of money is being raised to stop it and some of it will be spent on candidates who say that they’re for it, “EXCEPT….” Look for all of this to come out in the ongoing candidates’ debates. Watch for cards like offers to people with no money of an opportunity to “buy in,” or enticements to the young, wealthy and healthy to “opt out.” Watch for contrived polls to “prove” that the huge American majority for Medicare for All really isn’t there if the question is posed in another way. Watch for all the usual consultants and ad agencies hired to deploy all the junk surveys and junk science and junk arguments — because Medicare for All is for keeps.



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