Why are Democrats so resistant to Medicare for all?

Dear Commie,

Why won’t the Democratic Party get on board with Medicare for All, which is wildly popular among all Americans and would arguably give them a big shot in the arm as they face off against Trump in the middle of a nightmare pandemic? What does it mean that they’ve abandoned any mention of it in their party platform or in Biden’s campaign? Will they go to hell for this? 



Dear Baffled, 

The short answer is money. There are a lot of good people in the Democratic party, but because of the political system in this country, most elected officials feel the need to make friends with big donors. The health insurance industry is a ready supply of donors and a nice place to land as a lobbyist or executive after congress. Democrats with more wealthy friends become more influential within the party. All this assumes the politician is not corrupt or conflicted in more overt ways.

But let’s say most of the party actually listened to the people. The massive popularity of Medicare for All is blunted further because the senate is an undemocratic institution. Even if the Democrats win the senate and remove the filibuster (their only way to enact any sort of policy,) they feel they must cater to the right wing of their senate delegation. The Democrats may end up in a situation where they are effectively no farther left than Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who is hard to tell from a Republican. Joe Manchin’s daughter was, until recently, CEO of a company that infamously jacked up the prices of EpiPens, a drug delivery system that can literally mean the difference between life and death for people with severe allergic reactions.

People like Manchin would be less of an issue if party leadership were interested in exercising power or enacting policies that help people cover the basics of life. Even when they had enough votes to beat the filibuster in 2009, with an energetic and charismatic leader in Obama, the Democratic party talked itself into a far worse negotiating position on healthcare before actually negotiating with the opposition. Now they have the uninspiring, elderly trio of Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer. These three are risk-averse and conservative in terms of party strategy, and they have made no secret that they consider people to their left to be more threats than allies. 

To summarize, the Democrats as a whole are too friendly with the industry they would have to eliminate. They are unable and unwilling to exercise power. Even though Medicare for All has the potential to benefit them electorally in a public health crisis and massive recession—as well as making a tangible difference in the lives of the most marginalized populations in America, whom Democrats pretend to represent—the mass movement tactics needed to enact this basic social right are unpalatable to these people. Those same tactics threaten the system that helped install them into such influential positions. Because of this ideology, the leadership is chasing suburban centrist unicorns instead of giving the working class something to fight for.

Whether they’re going to hell? Their friends at the fracking companies are certainly trying to find it down there.


Ben Heili

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