The first presidential election I voted in was back in 1992. I voted for democratic party candidate, Jesse Jackson. You see, I remember seeing Jesse Jackson back in 1984 at the Democratic National Convention held in San Francisco. His keynote address electrified the convention floor. His impassioned plea for more government expenditures on hospitals, schools, and the nation’s general infrastructure was not lost upon anyone there. Jesse Jackson inspired my generation, or at least those who were willing to listen to him, and from then on, his framing of the issues never left my political blood. Living through the “government is the problem” mantra as championed by then President Ronald Reagan was difficult. I felt that government in a democracy was always beholden to the people it serves and that the solution to any national dilemma was not always less government. I never voted for a republican…ever.
I’m not someone who would naturally gravitate towards Hillary Clinton. Why? Because of her marriage to Bill, I evaluated her performance based on how effective I viewed Bill Clinton as a president when tackling the nation’s problems. When the debate over national health care came to light, Hillary took on the challenge by being put in charge of a task-force that was going to recommend to Bill on how to achieve universal health care. The Republican party vilified the task-force and the one thousand page document garnered little congressional support, even from Democrats. It’s focus was not on creating a single-payer or “Medicare for all” health care system. Instead, enforcing the mandate that all employers are required to offer health insurance coverage to all of their employees became the priority. It was a huge let down to those of us who wanted single-payer.
While husband Bill did his best to sell Hillary’s health care plan, it went nowhere in Congress. And that was the beginning of how Hillary lost me. And along the way, I grew more and more distant from “establishment politics. ” I saw HRC becoming exactly what I loathed most about our nation’s political system. Since 1992, all I’ve ever kept reading about is the nation’s worsening gap between rich and poor. Economic inequality grew and newspapers across the nation posted numerous stories about this ongoing economic development while Congress turned a deaf ear to it. The issue of economic inequality became #1 for me because for my entire adult professional life, I never was in the higher income bracket of the 1%. I did what I could to successfully navigate my professional career and experienced many ups and downs but in the end always found myself firmly established within the working class of this country. So when a presidential candidate comes along and describes how our economy is “rigged,” and that Wall Street has run afoul of the nation’s financial industry, actively violating federal laws, I pay attention. Stagnating wages was no laughing matter to those who were unable to escape this economic enslavement. But where was Hillary on the subject of economic inequality? As far as I could tell, she was nowhere. Being a first lady limited what impact Hillary could do and she decided to take on our health care mess. She failed and promptly seemed to disappear from the national scene until she eventually ran for the Senate. And in that time, I still never heard much from Hillary about our worsening economic disparity. Did she offer or sign on to any new legislation specifically addressing the issue? As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, HRC focused more on international issues. Economic issues like raising the minimum wage she did not promote. And then, what was the coup de grace that made me despise Hillary forever? Her vote in support of invading Iraq. I already detested George W. Bush. But I couldn’t believe how Hillary fell for the lying and manufactured evidence of WMDs in Iraq. In addition, she supported the Patriot Act, which was a major violation of civil liberties. There was no going back. I viewed Hillary as, at best, the moderate Republican that she still is to this day. She was/is establishment politics.
Then along comes Bernie Sanders…seemingly out of nowhere. He spoke in relatively simple language but on target. Taking on the obscene greed of Wall Street, the corruption perpetrated by our nation’s biggest banks, and the oligarchy in general became the defacto issues for me. Oh yeah, and where was Hillary on the matter? Why chasing his coattails. Because Hillary waffles on the most important issues of the day. And when she finds that she can garner more political support by switching positions, she’ll do so. While Bernie has zeroed in on economic inequality for a good deal of his political life. Bernie also came out in the last debate to slam the war criminal, former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. For Hillary, Kissinger was, in her words, a “friend,” and she relied on his counsel. Remember that Kissinger was instrumental in lengthening the Vietnam war, pushing to bomb Cambodia, overthrow the democratically elected Salvadore Allende of Chile, all in the name of U.S. security interests. As far as I’m concerned, any public official who seeks counsel from a criminal like Kissinger doesn’t belong in the White House.
Back to Hillary Clinton. She openly admits she does not want to fight the battles again that took place in passing Obamacare. She says she wants to expand upon Obamacare. What is Obamacare? Nothing but health insurance reform. It expands upon what private health insurance companies must provide. There’s government support to help states institute Obamacare but that’s it. When the seeds of Obamacare were originally being crafted and discussions were being held with democrats and republicans, the idea of a single-payer health care system never came up for public debate. Nor did the idea of Medicare to act as the purchaser for all prescription drugs on behalf of the American people as a way to lower drug prices. And again, where was Hillary? All she could do was support Obama and never did she pursue fighting for a Medicare for all health care system for our nation. For me, to live in country where private insurance companies get to make decisions about your health is anathema to any sense of human decency.
You can read all about Bernie’s plan for achieving Medicare for all. Two central ways that Bernie’s plan to achieve single-payer include a 6.2% percent income-based health care premium paid for by all employers; a 2.2% percent income-based premium paid by households, and instituting a progressive tax rate system, which as it stands now is anything but progressive!
What irritates me most, however, is how people keep saying that even if Bernie became president, he never could pass any of the progressive legislation he touts. He would never get a suitable congress to agree with any of his “socialist” agenda. My response to that is: as president, one of the greatest gifts you are given is that of the Bully Pulpit. As a president, you get to champion the issues and causes that you care most deeply about. And you get a platform to do it. You get to travel around the country and harangue the ears off of your audience. Yes, sometimes it comes across as obnoxious, I suppose. But when it comes to matters of life and death, I see it as your golden opportunity to win support for your favorite causes, especially ones that should matter to the lives of your supporters. Just as important, what those pundits who oppose Bernie Sanders are missing in all of this is that if Bernie were elected POTUS, it would be a shot heard around the world. It would inspire a whole new slate of liberal democrats to congress; it would be the opportunity of a lifetime to rebuild a liberal agenda that crystallized itself when LBJ passed Medicare back in 1965.
When the skeptics talk about how Bernie Sanders could never be elected president, only one person speaks for me: Robert Reich. And he writes:
2. “He couldn’t get any of his ideas implemented because Congress would reject them.”
If both house of Congress remain in Republican hands, no Democrat will be able to get much legislation through Congress, and will have to rely instead on executive orders and regulations. But there’s a higher likelihood of kicking Republicans out if Bernie’s “political revolution” continues to surge around America, bringing with it millions of young people and other voters, and keeping them politically engaged.
3. “America would never elect a socialist.”
P-l-e-a-s-e. America’s most successful and beloved government programs are social insurance – Social Security and Medicare. A highway is a shared social expenditure, as is the military and public parks and schools. The problem is we now have excessive socialism for the rich (bailouts of Wall Street, subsidies for Big Ag and Big Pharma, monopolization by cable companies and giant health insurers, giant tax-deductible CEO pay packages) – all of which Bernie wants to end or prevent.
4. “His single-payer healthcare proposal would cost so much it would require raising taxes on the middle class.”
This is a duplicitous argument. Studies show that a single-payer system would be far cheaper than our current system, which relies on private for-profit health insurers, because a single-payer system wouldn’t spend huge sums on advertising, marketing, executive pay, and billing. So even if the Sanders single-payer plan did require some higher taxes, Americans would come out way ahead because they’d save far more than that on health insurance.
And of course, the grandest of ironies is that Robert Reich worked for then President Bill Clinton as our nation’s Secretary of Labor. And did Reich come away from that experience loving HRC any more or less? It is very telling that Robert is not supportive of Hillary’s candidacy. Robert views Hillary as another example of “establishment politics.” She is an excellent candidate for the political system we have, but not for the one we need. With grave issues facing the United States, Robert believes major systemic changes are required, and Hillary is not the one who will get it done, or at a minimum, trumpet those causes. There is no doubt in my mind that Bernie can defeat any candidate put up by the current roster of Republican idiots for president. The latest Real Clear political polls confirm it. This election year, I ask anyone who is a Hillary Clinton supporter to remind themselves of Robert Kennedy’s most favorite quote: “You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream of things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?” (George Bernard Shaw)
That is Bernie Sander’s quest for the presidency. To those who claim a Bernie Sanders presidency will never happen, they don’t dream and dare not to ask: Why not?