Why is single payer not at the President’s table?
76% of Americans want single payer health care. President Obama, judged by his actions, is staunchly against giving this 76% what they want. He did not invite one advocate of single payer to his advisory panel. The majority of the U.S.’s elected representatives are also staunchly against representing the taxation wishes of the majority of their constituents. When elected representatives refuse to allocate tax dollars based on the wishes of the majority of their constituents, then the elected representatives are practicing a type of taxation without representation. Why are the POTUS, the Democrats, and the Republicans so strongly in favor of taxation without representation on the issue of health care? What would it take to make single payer healthcare a reality in the U.S.?
Rather than repeat or add to the mass of research that suggests U.S. citizens are systematically denied the fruits of their constitution and their nation by the corrupt relationship that exists between the Presidency, the Senate, Congress, and numerous powerful blocks of lobbyists, I will take a different tack. (This is not to say that the corruption is not a significant part of the problem or even the most significant part of the problem, however, it is merely to point towards another piece of the “why not single payer” healthcare puzzle.)
I suggest that one reason the majority of America’s elected representatives refuse to represent the wishes of their constituents on the issue of healthcare is because the U.S. does not have a left wing, it only has a right wing and a center. The Republicans are the right. The Democrats are the center. The left lacks a serious representative party.
Quibblers will rightfully point out that the left end of the center is America’s left, but that misses the point, which is to say that single payer healthcare was a policy of the European and Canadian left. It only became adopted by the center because single payer healthcare was so rational, moral, and desirable to the electorate, that going against the policy, or not going for the policy, caused the center and the right to lose electoral support to the left, and in some cases, so much that the left formed the government. The first province that got single payer healthcare in Canada did so by electing a socialist government.
President Obama did not invite one advocate of single payer healthcare to his advisory group, even though 76% of U.S. citizens want it, because neither he, nor the anti-single payer Democrats, are afraid of citizen backlash. They are not afraid of citizen backlash because, without a perceived viable party on the left, citizens do not have an effective way to punish them at the ballot box. The point to take here is that the only thing that either party respects about the citizens is the ability of the citizens to hurt them at the ballot box.
Given the history of the U.S., it’s unlikely that a viable left will materialize anytime soon, so does this mean getting single payer is dead?
Not necessarily, but it will be difficult and take hard work. Because 76% of Americans favor single payer, its wide base of support, necessarily including Republicans, makes it a potential wedge issue, which means that anti-single payer candidates can be targeted at the ballot box. This seems possible, when one considers it’s high level of support, despite the flood of anti-single payer propaganda and the willful attempts at distortion using a “public option.” The power of single payer as a wedge issue is further enhanced by President Obama’s confidence-based betrayal of the progressive movement, which should turn them towards the Nader/Green left or independent status and make Democrats more susceptible to the wishes of their constituents.
Nothwithstanding, single payer healthcare can only become a wedge issue, if single payer supporters act as single payer advocates by letting the Republican and Democrat candidates in their area know that being anti-single payer makes them a non-starter. Many people writing two letters or making two phone calls can trump bagfulls of lobbyist donations. Doing so is a potential good step in the direction of “A Republic, if you can keep it” and The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” After all, and as noted in “The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen“, sometimes the enemy is inside the gates.
There is no shortage of stories about politicians receiving policy revelation when their political futures are in jeopardy. Barack Obama(h/t to John at LR), for example, converted from single payer to anti-single payer when faced with losing access to the funding from the healthcare lobby. If citizens who support single payer can find a meaningful way to punish their elected representatives at the ballot box for not supporting single payer, then it might be possible to create a circumstance where President Obama will roll out the video from 2003 and read from his teleprompter, “I’ve always supported single payer healthcare.”
This is an open thread. Have a great Friday night!
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Filed under: Barack Obama, collective action, Democratic Party, Health Care Reform, healthcare, Public Plan, Single Payer Tagged: | Barack Obama, Democratic Party, health care, Health Care Reform, left wing, Lobbyist, political corruption, progressives, Republicans, single-payer health care