The failure of Obamacare to contain costs is becoming obvious to all but the most partisan Democrats with the recent announcement of another round of premium increases by major insurers. Maybe Democratic politicians will finally see that Obamacare is a poison pill that will put Republicans in power again if they do not initiate an honest discussion about the necessity of a single payer health care system.
I fully support the goal of a left-right coalition. The problem then is to unite around common values by changing the frame of the discussion.
The crux of the difference is not that conservatives don't want government. People who have this goal are the hard-core self-deluded individuals who will never be able to make common cause with anyone. Our job is to break down ideological barriers by appealing to the common sense of justice shared by the vast majority of Americans, whether they think of themselves as liberals or conservatives.
Considering economic responsibility is most definitely a conservative value shared by thinking liberals. The only reason that most conservatives don't support a single payer system is that they do not realize that in addition to health care being a human right, universal health care is the only sane way to provide health care from an economic point of view. The dirty little secret that Democratic and Republican politicians don't want you to know is that single payer is the most important means to reign in costs of government there is, although cutting the defense budget is a close second.
The reason that Congress doesn't want you to know that is that both parties depend on campaign cash from corporations in the medical-industrial complex, just as they do money from the military-industrial complex. If they betray the interests of any of their corporate puppet masters they run the risk of scaring all of them into attacking them.
The truth is that we all pay for health care for the uninsured one way or the other and that is not going to change. However, the costs of the for-profit health care system are about twice what they are in countries with universal health care and are approaching 20% of GDP. With an aging population, Medicare will be unsustainable if costs are not reined in. The only way to do this is to improve it by making drug companies negotiate with the government and offering Medicare to everyone so the healthy offset the costs of caring for the sick. Since this saves the average taxpayer money and eliminates the fear of medical bankruptcy, only a fool would argue against it on ideological grounds.
Here is a little bullet point I wrote outlining the savings from a single payer plan.
Here is an article I wrote about the politics of health care reform that argues for an honest debate on single payer.
I hope that you will read and share both.
You say it isn't that they (the right?) don't want government -- uh, does the name Grover Norquist ring a bell? Newt Gingrich? Hasn't there been one long march to the right on making government smaller, and smaller, then still smaller -- driven by the right itself, but also sucking in flim-flam Democrats along the way to further prop itself up?My point is: Those people who you characterize as the "hard-core self-deluded individuals who will never be able to make common cause with anyone" -- well, that's the right wing. Call them out any way you like; they stand in the way of human progress, and they hold on to a lot of power, and it is growing daily. It is only people on the Left who think the right will give in who are delusional. The right is certifiably nuts and too powerful, which is a dangerous combination.
I comment on all of this because I think it is relevant as to how we move forward if we want to win the peace, real health care reform and full employment--- jobs for all who want to work.
In Canada, the great Tommy Douglas, one of the primary founders of the socialist New Democratic Party, while near death, reminded Canadians they were going to have to see the struggle through without him for "socialized health care" because the single-payer system was only a short-term fix reform and was not sustainable in the long-term.
Alan said: " It is quite possible, and has repeatedly be done, that those who are afflicted with right wing ideas can be educated and convinced their right wing (conservative) ideas are wrong by the way a coalition of the liberals, progressives and the left proceed in fighting and struggling for reforms and those of us from the left (I speak here as a leftist) should always consider we have to convince and educate people to bring them along to a healthier view of the world--- the "we" instead of the selfish "me" which is the basis for right wing thinking to begin with. "
He goes on to cite a lot of history of social change that unfortunately is not as relative today because of the filibuster (requiring a supermajority to pass legislation in a deeply divided Senate) and the grip on the public mind of a corporate media that does not challenge the left-right meme that fills Congress with uncompromising ideologues and milquetoast "liberals" (at best). In such a milieu, it is impossible for a Tommy Douglas to muster the political strength to oppose the right wing, which I most certainly do not regard as synonymous with "conservatives." When I was going up, the "right wing" was a term reserved for fascists who quite clearly supported the interests of corporations and the rich over the people. It is the corporate media in the west that has given the term respectability by equating it with the term "conservative." It is nothing of the kind. That is what I think about when I frame the terms of any discussion about how to bring Americans together to fight for justice.
The only way to effect political change is to get people to quit labeling themselves and arguing from ideologies that are determined by the corporate media after extensive polling by folks like Frank Luntz tells them what language will best sway the masses. Both "liberal" and "conservative" politicians frame the terms of debate in Congress using these memes, which is why there is any debate at all about cutting earned benefits under Social Security and Medicare as a "necessary" means to reduce the debt, for instance. I use the terms "thinking conservative" and "thinking liberal" as a convenience, but in my opinion anyone who has thought very deeply about our current situation knows that a thinking citizen holds both liberal and conservative values, many of which were traditionally identical. That is why America worked for a while, even if it has always fallen short of true democracy.
No Difference asks for values conservatives share with liberals. How about democracy? I am convinced that the only way we will get single payer is to get liberals and conservatives to agree that we need a constitutional amendment to ban corporate campaign expenditures and limit the amount individuals can spend to influence elections. Since 80% of self-identified conservatives and liberals are opposed to Citizens United, this may be the one issue we can get a vast majority of Americans to agree on that Congress will have to respond to, especially after we make it a campaign issue starting in 2014. Check out the Pledge to Amend campaign.
We are not going to get conservative support when we start talking about socialism. If a democratic nation decides to adopt socialism that is well and good, but you can't get there from here. You have to have a plan that starts from where the People are at, moving them forward until they can see why they should or shouldn't take that step. The National Health Program Alan is talking about would not even get the support of most liberals, who would view it as impossible to sell to conservatives, or even undesirable. Look how the "liberals" in the Democratic party sold out for the public option bait-and-switch.
The basis of any productive discussion is a common understanding of the definitions of terms used. In redefining conservative as distinct from "right wing" I am making the same sort of distinction Alan and No Difference make between "liberal" and "progressive." The point is to highlight the desirable characteristics of the "right" and "left" points of view where we can find common ground and invite people from the extremes to join us.
Let me be very clear about what the central message of my last post was: I want to see the Justice Party take a strong stand on a constitutional amendment and to reach out to other parties and organizations to do the same. That is a plank that will strengthen the platform of any party or candidate willing to put democracy at the center of political campaign debate. Again, I would ask that whoever reads this look at the Pledge to Amend campaign here.
Pledge to Amend is nonpartisan, in that its goal is to make support for a constitutional amendment making it impossible for corporations and the rich to buy elections a litmus test in congressional elections around the country, starting in 2014 and continuing until we elect a Congress that will pass the amendment. With 80% of both self-identified liberals and conservatives opposed to Citizens United, the time is now to take back America for the People.
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