It's dismaying to see Hillary Clinton still repeating the discredited idea that a single payer health care system would be too expensive. Although we already know it provides comprehensive and universal health care at a fraction of the cost of American's non-system everywhere it has been tried, some of her supporters continue to find various justifications for opposing what polls show 85% of Democrats say they want. There has never been a better example of the self-defeating nature of establishment thinking in the Democratic Party. Attitudes about Clinton are so fixed that you have to wonder, if the primary were a referendum on single payer, would Democrats actually reject it?
Of course, the election is about much more than that. Sanders has opened and closed the last two debates with well-honed arguments that taking on the corrupting influence of Wall Street would be his first priority. What he has not said in his comments about single payer is that concern for their Wall Street patrons was the reason Democrats took it off the table at the beginning of the health care reform debate in 2009. Their excuse was that it was "unrealistic." Instead, they offered a bait-and-switch in the form of the Public Option. It was billed as a step to single payer because everyone would choose cheap, comprehensive Medicare-type over the spotty coverage of overpriced private insurance. However, Senator Schumer quickly ended that vain hope when he made a deal to handicap the Public Option so it could not compete with private insurance.
Many rank-and-file Democrats failed to ask themselves what the suppression of the debate about single payer said about the chances of eventually electing a Democratic majority that would put the interests of people over profit. The answer is that the Democratic leadership, being dependent on Wall Street to control the White House, is insufficiently willing to challenge the corruption of the system. Until we find leaders in the party who will, there is no reason to expect anything to change.
Reforming campaign finance would make achieving single payer and accomplishing the rest of the progressive agenda possible. The alternative is abandoning hope of getting what we need in exchange for what we can get, in the name of "pragmatism." In using this as a selling point for her candidacy, Clinton is apparently arguing that truly representative democracy is a naïve notion. Elect her, she says, and she will use her experience navigating the existing corrupt system to fight for small, incremental victories that do not challenge the corporate takeover of American government and the economy.
Sanders cannot pass single payer by himself, but neither can Clinton honestly promise to deliver any meaningful reforms of the Byzantine, unaffordable and woefully inadequate system of Obamacare. It will take a mass movement of Americans demanding their government put their interests over corporate profit to get real health care reform.
This article originally appeared on the website of Soldiers For Peace International. It may be reproduced unedited, with attribution and a link to the original source, 48 hours after publication here.