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Voters Want Change, Not Centrism

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/12/27/voters-want-change-not-centrism

Status Quo and “Nothing will fundamentally change” will not sell any longer. People need something to vote FOR not against. Moderate Centrism has nothing to offer

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“Voters Want Change, Not Centrism”

Yeah, but the capitalists want neoliberal servants in office. They’re paying big money to buy them, and they’re paying big money for voter suppression, voter disenfranchisement and purges, hackable voting machines, and media blackouts of anyone they haven’t bought. The oligarchs have established a plutocracy and ensured that what the voters want does not matter. How could it? If you are not one of them, your life doesn’t even matter to the upper class. The only reason we even have elections any more is to gull the people into imagining what they want matters.

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Voters Want Change, Not Centrism

As the “progressive” news organizations continue to join with their mainstream corporate counterparts in reinforcing the right wing framing of this discussion, we get more and more hopelessly mired in the propaganda designed to keep cooperate oligarchy firmly in control of the conversation.

Centrism, centrist, moderate, center-left, pragmatist, etc. are all terms used to pretend that the “center” is somewhere between democratic socialism and today’s Republicans, when of course the reality is that what they call the center lies between the Bush II right wing and the far right fascists.

This carefully crafted deception has been used for decades in order to normalize the shift of the Democratic party to the far right, and is working splendidly. Old line FDR Democrats like Bernie Sanders are now “far left” and cannot be countenanced if Democrats are to win, so the party must move to the "center’ from the “left” (where they have not been since the election of Billary Clinton) in order to win and give us corporatism with a conscience.

Wait for it. Soon, “far left” social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will come under direct attack from Democrats just as they have been since inception by Republicans. This will be sold to the minions as “moving to the center.”

And they’ll buy it.

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I am afraid it will as many of people I know just watch nbc, cbs, abc and cnn. They hear the same old he says she says and don’t know that Bernie is surging. They think I am extreme and don’t know what I am talking about…even though I post common dreams articles on facebook.

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It ain’t over till it’s over

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Guess what, Juju. I send my Missus CD articles all the time which she posts to FB (I am not addicted or even interested in FB). Personally, I sincerely doubt that anyone but “The Choir” reads them. The Neo-Lib-Right and Dumbf supporters have closed the door on open-minded, critical-thinking. “I hear you knockin’ but you can’t come in” seems to be their “feet-in-concrete” stance.

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Bernie Sanders will NEVER find the votes in the Senate for Medicare For All, for the same reasons Trump could not repeal Obamacare. And it will be even more IMPOSSIBLE because unlike Repeal-and-Replace which was presented through a budget reconciliation gimmick and could be passed with 50% of the votes, M4A will need a supermajority of 60%.

I am as socialist as anyone here but, gosh, how come everybody swallows Bernie’s koolaid without questioning him on that!?

Define “Bernie’s kool aid” please.

The Senate’s obduracy, irruption and incompetence are nothing new. It is absurd to suggest that Bernie is serving kool aid just because he advocates for Medicare For All in the face of an intransigent and utterly corrupt corporate junta. The whole goddamn DC Establishment is rotten to the core. The only hope of changing this is to elect leaders with integrity, such as Bernie. That’s the whole point of Bernie’s campaign. Anyway, if aiming for systemic change involves swigging a bit of kool aid with the neighbors at the barbecue, well, bottoms up!

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Wow, what a novel concept – we don’t have the votes for this or that.

Here’s another concept: Let’s change the art of the possible by changing the conversation about what’s possible.

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Bernie’s answer to that is: Bernie 2020 and Us!
He has flat out stated that getting programs to pass will depend not only on his effort, that he will need tremendous help from his supporters to pressure the politicians to act accordingly. This is the political revolution he so often has alluded to.

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Baby steps until the senate is retaken. Medicare was incremental.

Marriage equality didn’t have the votes either; now it’s the law of the land. Teachers didn’t have the votes in Republican-run states like Oklahoma and West Virginia, but they won higher wages anyway. You could repeat your argument for any number of goals that “didn’t have the votes” until social movements changed the equation and they became transformative progressive victories.

Most supporters of Sanders are well aware that none of his legislation will pass without massive public pressure on Democratic and Republican resistance. He’s been quite outspoken about the willingness to primary Democrats and use the bully pulpit to pressure his opposition.

It’s the so called centrists who are astonishingly naive, because they consistently downplay existential crises like climate change and wealth inequality - crises that under business as usual will soon destroy any vestige of normalcy and democracy left in this country. Not only that, but the other candidates have no way of getting their own modest proposals through Congress. They don’t understand why Trump got elected and why Democrats spent the last decade LOSING hundreds of seats throughout the country. They don’t see that their ideology is failing all around the globe. Harris, Buttigieg, Beto, Klobuchar, Gillibrand, Booker… they are all relics of a bygone age, neoliberals who love to tell the working class everything that can’t be done, while they bend over backwards for the rich.

Good riddance.

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Well, looked at incrementally, there is no reason M4A couldn’t be passed incrementally. First year, by spring, when there is still a lot of energy and enthusiasm, he passes an expansion of Medicare to cover eyecare, dental, home healthcare assistance and nursing home assistance. as well as dropping the coverage age to 55 and include all pre-adult care from neonatal to 21. That’s the big enchilada, though it could be promoted as a necessary expansion/reform of existing Medicare. That would help young families struggling to provide health care for their children and aging parents while examining the issues of expanding scope and scale of the service to those most desperately in need of healthcare coverage. Then by the end of the second summer of a Sanders administration a second legislative expansion bill (stage 2) could be passed which would reform or modify the first legislation passed more than a year earlier to expand coverage to all those under 30 and over 45 as well as addressing any structural and infrastructural issues discovered in the first 18 months of the stage 1 implementation. By the end of the third summer of a Sanders administration we would be trying to pass the stage 3 implementation package legislation (with the addition of strong midterm pick-ups in the now broadly Progressive House and increasingly Progressive Senate), which would expand coverage to all residents of the United States. This is very close to what Sanders is currently describing, and I think it may well be easier to pass in three parts as the opposition will perceive at least three opportunities to kill it/roll it back, while the people enrolled will learn to enjoy Healthcare coverage that most of them have never had (especially without any out-of-pocket expenses and a $200/year cap on their medications).

The power of the bully pulpit is overrated. Look at Trump with Repeal-and-Replace or Build-the-Wall, and for both he needed only 50%. The odds of getting 60% for Medicare-for-All are nil.

Sure, the other laws you mentioned did not have the votes originally but look at Mariage Equality: it took 20 or 30 years of activism to change the public opinion, and a number of judicial cases to finally build one up that was solid enough to go to the Supreme Court.

We need a similar strategy for healthcare. Bernie is planning to present his M4A plan at the House in his first week in office and he claims he can get 60 senators to back him up. This is completely nuts. He doesn’t give any explanation except for “We’ll make it happen!” This is wishful thinking. How come so many socialist comrades, who usually have a heightened sense of criticality, fall for that kind of pull-it-out-of-my-ass explanation? I’m baffled. WAKE UP, PEOPLE! It’s a lie.

The bully pulpit coupled with actual social movements is powerful. Trump doesn’t have that. FDR, maybe, not Trump.

Well, that’s not bad. People have been fighting for single payer for at least as long, so we’re about due.

Frankly, I don’t get the utility of your fatalism. If you want something, you organize, demand it and fight for it. It’s the only way progressive change has ever happened.

What is your alternative, or are you only interested in what you believe cannot be accomplished?

No, I think we should grab what we can, and as soon as we can - like pass the Public Option now because we can, then build consensus around Single Payer and pass it as soon as possible.

The promise of introducing Single Payer now, in the first week of a Sanders presidency, is a lure and a lie.

We can, really? You’re counting votes. How many votes are there in the Senate for the public option? If it would be so easy, why wasn’t there a public option added to the ACA in 2009?

Many questions need to be answered about the public option, like how it actually leads to universal care and how it actually reduces costs. How adding yet another payer to our multi-payer system isn’t adding yet more complexity and bureaucracy to an already overly complex and bureaucratic system. How a public option avoids chronic underfunding because private insurers will price-out and dump the costliest customers on the public system just like charter schools dump the costliest students on public schools. How would it be paid for? As a expanded public program, it would be tax supported. But if it is an option, that implies there would also be premiums. So a tax hike AND premiums?

I’ve never heard any proponent of the public option seriously respond to these questions, which leads me to conclude that it is essentially a dodge that gets trotted out by industry proponents every time the demand for single-payer is strong.

Every candidate in the party claims they want universal care, because Democratic voters overwhelmingly demand universal care for all Americans. The concept is even popular amongst independents and Republicans. There may be many roads to universal care. The Medicare For All bill, already in the House and Senate, is one. The public option - at least to the extent it has currently been defined - is not.

So which is the lure and the lie?

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Universal healthcare (the coverage of +95% of the population) absolutely requires a public option. It doesn’t require a single payer system.

A public option saves lives.
A single payer system saves money.

A public option could be passed in a budget reconciliation.
A single payer system requires 60 votes.

Polls show around 70% for a public option and 50% for a single payer system (73% and climbing to 51% and decreasing in this one: https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/465786-support-drops-for-medicare-for-all-but-increases-for-public-option)

I’d like to see some evidence of this. An ‘option’ to me means people can purchase coverage if they choose. So a public option immediately runs into the problem that insurance options in our current system do, which is that it will be underutilized and not chosen by people who don’t want to pay the costs. These are generally working people who don’t qualify for Medicaid and are paying a much larger percentage of their income for health care than the more affluent would. This is why the ACA had a mandate. You can sanction people if they don’t get coverage (a forced “option”?), but there is no other way to guarantee that anything like 95% of people will have coverage. The ACA, with a mandate, achieved around 90%.

The simplest way to cover everyone is just to cover everyone. Not to offer them something else that they may or may not be able to afford. Not to mention that we haven’t even discussed under-insurance, which the public option doesn’t address. Just having insurance doesn’t mean you won’t face medical bankruptcy or have to choose whether to visit your doctor because you can’t afford copays.

“A public option saves lives.
A single payer system saves money.”

These are slogans, not arguments. Obviously the more people who have health care, the more lives you save. Your premise seems to be we can’t give everyone health care, so the public option is the best we can do. Many other countries in the world who provide health care for all their citizens prove otherwise.

“A public option could be passed in a budget reconciliation.
A single payer system requires 60 votes.”

We’ve kind of covered this before. I’d refer you to the article I cited before. A public option that is truly intended to replace the current system and achieve universality will face the same resistance in Congress that M4A would.

“Polls show around 70% for a public option and 50% for a single payer system (73% and climbing to 51% and decreasing in this one: https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/465786-support-drops-for-medicare-for-all-but-increases-for-public-option)”

Again, I’d refer you to the previous article, which indicates that polling differs based upon how the question is posed. The industry discovered that the suggestion that people would lose their current health care under M4A scared them, and so now that is what Biden and Buttigieg and all of the pundits harp on. Besides after months of “how you gonna pay for it?” being virtually the only question asked in mainstream discussion of M4A, and no critical scrutiny of the alternatives, how would you expect recent polling to go?

From a strategic point of view, pushing the public option now is conceding before you even get to the negotiating table. If A is universal care, you come to the table demanding A. You may end up with less than A, but you’ll likely end up with more than when you came to the table asking for less.

Universal health care isn’t only about health and money. It’s about more even than doing what voters want. It’s about reversing wealth inequality, protecting climate refugees and people out of work from phased-out fossil fuel jobs, freeing working people from jobs that they only keep for health benefits, and beginning to address racial and gender inequalities that are endemic in the U.S. It’s about establishing a system that, like Social Security or public education, all Americans can benefit from, and rally around.

If you’re willing to concede that without even fighting for it, what else are you willing to concede, and what do you believe is even worth the fight?