Why Bernie Is Right About Single-Payer and Some Policy Wonks Are Wrong
It is a bit incredulous that so many smart, good hearted liberals are throwing so much shade at Bernie over his commitment to Single Payer. The weakest point of their position is whether these important policy wonks would be so steadfast in their opinions if they did not all have their own quality health care insurance. How about finding more room in your liberal hearts to appreciate that Bernie is fighting for those at the bottom of the food chain that will absolutely not get the health care they need, unless someone like him goes the distance in this 60 plus year fight to get quality health care for all Americans.
Recently, Chris Hayes on MSNBC chose to highlight Krugman, Klein and Chait who are highly respected wonks in opposition to Single Payer. They argue for the political practicality of the Public Option over Single Payer as possibly the next upgrade in the Affordable Care Act. On the other side of the ring, we have Robert Reich who unlike these opposing three has government experience. In 2008, Time magazine named Reich one of the Ten Best Cabinet Members of the century based on his four years as Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton. In addition well respected economists Dean Baker and Gerald Friedman agree with Bernie and Reich. So in this particular matchup, we have three ace economists, one who did brilliant work as a cabinet member versus a noble prize winning economist and two intelligent journalists who are a touch smug in believing they know more about what works in government than virtually anyone else.
However, the credentials of these experts pale in comparison to the weight of the main reason to support Single Payer. Single Payer represents the morally right position to take. Every human deserves not to be left to suffer or wither and die because of inadequate health care. Single payer cuts more fat out of our currently bloated health care costs than the Public Option. These additional savings over the Public Option can be used to make certain EVERYONE gets the health care they need. That is why Single Payer is morally superior to the Public Option.
This moral superiority is probably a key reason why Bernie is so adamant about Single Payer. All of the big ideas in Bernie’s campaign represent principles important to our democracy and our collective pursuit of happiness. Adherence to these principles and Bernie’s genuine passion for them as well as his compassion for his fellow Americans is why he is so popular. The force of his will backed by his genuineness is why so many citizens are waking out of their political slumber and getting behind his revolution. When enough people take the moral high ground there is a power behind it that is both mysterious and deep. Bernie’s surprisingly strong campaign for president is a prime example that this is true. His campaign and possible revolution is being built from this moral high ground and Single Payer is just one brick in this foundation.
This anti-Single Payer team is not really arguing the value of the policy so much as whether it is realistic to get it passed and implemented. However, if the promise of Single Payer is playing a role in bringing energy to a dormant voter base why spend so much time arguing over the value of Single Payer versus the Public Option? The underlying reasons for this difference of opinion fall under the category of human frailty. There is an attachment every voter typically develops for a political candidate and or political position. In regards to to a politician, at some point this support hits a slippery slope that hardens into concrete once they have actually voted for someone. Few voters have the guts to admit they made a mistake supporting a politician even when compelling reasons later bleakly stare them in the face. Similarly, experts once they have taken a public stand are loathe to change their minds in public because it could damage their expert status. This could be at a conscious or unconscious level. This is not to ignore a difficult decision these men of political policy had to make. That was in discerning whether to stay within a certain comfort zone of being down to earth policy wonks versus taking the bold step of declaring morality or bust.
The trio of Krugman, Klein and Chait like just about every other liberal pundit pegged Hillary as the one most likely to be our next president. So they like every other voter who has chosen their candidate, typically look for reasons to support this decision and mentally distance themselves from reasons to dissuade it. However I do hope these men of substance, reconsider whether it is better to side with the current limitations of our democracy versus justice for all in the form of health care for all. Bernie knows the right side of this debate and that’s why he should be our next president.