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A Doctor With a Cure: "Medicare for All"

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Source: The Nation


Gene Farley and I shared a deep affection for Tommy Douglas, the Baptist preacher-turned-statesman who as the leader of Saskatchewan's Cooperative Commonwealth Federation established the framework for what would become Canada's single-payer national healthcare system.

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Douglas, who is often recalled as "the Greatest Canadian," had a congenial style that belied his determination to address social and economic injustices he knew to be immoral. "The inescapable fact," he argued, "is that when we build a society based on greed, selfishness, and ruthless competition, the fruits we can expect to reap are economic insecurity at home and international discord abroad."

Paraphrasing Tennyson, Douglas roused Canadians with a promise: "Courage, my friends; "tis not too late to build a better world." That line always came to mind when I was with Gene, who died Friday at 86.

Gene was an internationally renowned physician, an originator of family practice residency programs and innovative public-health initiatives who finished a distinguished academic career as chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Wisconsin.

Yet, his great passion was as a "build a better world" campaigner. The man who proudly recalled joining the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 was still marching for those same causes in 2013.

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With his beloved wife, Dr. Linda Farley, Gene devoted two decades of "retirement" to advancing a broad justice vision that -- after Linda's death in 2009 -- could be seen in the remarkable ecological, agricultural and community-building work of the Linda & Gene Farley Center for Peace, Justice and Sustainability.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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