Nader Rips Sanders Democrats For Putting Single Payer On Back Burner

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Above Photo: Single payer protest in NYC by Occupy

Last month, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) promised single payer activists that he would introduce his single payer bill in the Senate within the next couple of weeks.

Now, according to Sanders’ staff, it’s not going to happen.

In putting single payer on the back burner, Sanders has reverted to his November 2016 position when his staff told activists that no single payer bill would be introduced in the Senate because the Democrats wanted to focus on defeating the Republicans.

“It’s one thing for Bernie Sanders to lead his followers back into the established Democratic Party,” consumer advocate Ralph Nader said. “But why can’t he pull the Democratic Party to adopt his highly popular agenda, led by single payer, which garnered many millions of voters last year? Those voters must be starting to wonder.”

Kevin Zeese of Health Over Profit said that Sanders decision not to introduce the single payer bill “shows what Sanders’ priorities are.”

“He has always said saving the Affordable Care Act comes before creating single payer,” Zeese said. “But it’s a mistake. Sanders says he wants to fix the problems of the ACA. How do you fix problems like 30,000 people dying every year? Single payer Medicare for all.”

“Sanders is reverting to his original position from last year — I’m not going to introduce single payer because we have to show a united front against Trump,” Zeese said. “But it could be weeks before the Senate does anything.”

One hundred and nine Democrats (109) in the House have already signed onto John Conyers (D-Michigan) single payer bill — HR 676.

Not one of those Democrats is from Connecticut, Nader’s home state.

And Nader today sent a letter to the five of them — Congressmen Joe Courtney, John Larson and Jim Jimes and Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro and Elizabeth Esty.

“Not one of you — members of the Connecticut Congressional delegation — has co-sponsored HR 676,” Nader wrote.

“This despite majoritarian support, with a recent Pew poll showing 85% of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents saying the federal government should be responsible for health care insurance.”

“Why are you not representing your constituents on this critical reform that, as demonstrated in other countries, is much more efficient, provides much more choice and has better outcomes?”

“The uniformity of your non-participation in this growing legislative movement sticks out like a sore thumb.”

“Even colleagues of yours from Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee are co-sponsors.”

“It would behoove you in your forthcoming town meetings during the Congressional recess next week to discuss the reasons why for so many years you have avoided endorsing HR 676.”

“I have asked several people in Connecticut, who are your voters, why you have taken your rejectionist stance.”

“Their responses boil down to one word – Aetna.”

“Surely you don’t believe that, do you?”

“Or is it another word — Pelosi. Surely you don’t believe that, do you?”

“Let’s have the explanation come not from third parties or hearsay but straight from each of you — in some detail, please.”

“The uninsured and underinsured people of Connecticut would be interested in your responses. So would I.”

  • Steve1027

    I don’t think the headline is very accurate. I see Ralph is upset with his CT delegation, as is evident in the quotations provided, but to call those democrats ‘Sanders Democrats’ seems disingenuous. Chomsky has repeatedly referred to Sanders as a New Deal Democrat and I don’t think any member of the CT delegation would be considered a New Deal Democrat, but I’m not from CT so i may be wrong. I get it that the GP members who write these don’t like Bernie, which is fine and there always needs to be a presence pushing pols to do the right thing, but to say that Nader has “ripped Sanders Democrats” is not evident from the actual article. Play nice, if the left ever puts together a coalition to take on the oligarchy, it will have both Green Party members and Bernie’s millennial supporters. We see eye to eye on almost everything and most of his supporters do acknowledge his weaknesses re: MIC, Israel, etc.

  • DHFabian

    Those who aren’t on the right wing don’t march in lockstep, and there seems to be little cohesion of ideology. And this was always true. There are few “one size fits all” answers in real life. Many of us are pro-Israel, strongly standing up for the right of the (tiny) historic and modern Jewish nation to exist. Today, many who assume they are New Deal Dems actually aren’t, once you point out that modern welfare aid was first included in FDR’s Social Security Act. The deepest split among those who are not on the right wing is by class, middle class vs. poor. We’re 20 years into our war on the poor, brought to fruition by the Clinton Democrats.

    What matters the most to voters, at the proverbial end of the day, is
    whether they have the means to keep their families together, housed and fed. I don’t know where Sen. Sanders stands at the moment. He used to speak out powerfully about US poverty and the need for legitimate poverty relief — aware of the consequences of our deregulated capitalism. That doesn’t sell to today’s middle class Dems, so he dropped the issue. The Green Party did support legitimate poverty relief programs for years, but the US branch of the Green Party appears to be stepping back from that commitment.

  • Jon

    Fabian, There is a HUGE difference between “supporting the right of Israel to exist,” and being an apologist for their absolutely genocidal policies versus the Palestinian inhabitants and Israeli full-on apartheid methods. Referencing your:

    “Many of us are pro-Israel, strongly standing up for the right of the (tiny) historic and modern Jewish nation to exist.”

  • lowe76

    Sanders should be criticized about this, and as someone who has been, in my practice since early 2016, “a Sanders Democrat” I will criticize him for that and call on him to change his mind, and tell him that I regard it as a sellout and a betrayal of a key reason I supported him.

    But really, fuck Ralph Nader for lying about me. I am a Sanders Democrat and I spend most of my time working for single payer, and most of the people I know from Sanders politics are actively supporting single payer, and most of the people I work with on single payer supported Sanders and voted for Clinton. Sanders’ wrong move will in no way “sheep dog” me or others away from that commitment. That argument is arrogant, condescending and patronizing and divides our movement.

    It is fine to have criticisms of participating in Democratic politics but when you attack your own movement members with this kind of rhetoric, you score an own goal. I just wasted ten minutes having to respond to this nonsense.

    You really need to understand that when grassroots Democrats read attacks on “Democrats” we see that as including us. I understand all the arguments against working as Democrats but don’t find the alternatives persuasive enough to treat is as matter principle rather than tactics.

    Most of my politics is movement politics, not party or electoral politics. Please have the good grace to respect your comrades who make different assessments than you do.

  • lowe76

    Sanders should be criticized about this, and as someone who has been, in my practice since early 2016, “a Sanders Democrat” I will criticize him for that and call on him to change his mind, and tell him that I regard it as a sellout and a betrayal of a key reason I supported him.

    This headline does a disservice to Ralph Nader and to our movement, though. Nader criticized five specific Democratic members of Congress, not “Sanders Democrats.”

    In your partisan terms I am a Sanders Democrat, and I spend most of my time working for single payer. Most of the people I know from Sanders politics are actively supporting single payer. Most of the people I work with on single payer supported Sanders and voted for Clinton.

    Sanders’ wrong move will in no way “sheep dog” me or others away from that commitment. That argument is arrogant, condescending and patronizing and divides our movement.

    Moreover, had I voted for Jill Stein or abstained in the last election or not been involved in supporting Sanders, it would not have changed one thing about my support for single payer nor made my specifically single payer work more effective.

    On the contrary, there are entire areas of new possibility that the Sanders campaign has opened up for us organizing at the grass roots, regardless of what errors Sanders himself is making now.

    It is fine to have criticisms of participating in Democratic politics but when you attack your own movement members with this kind of rhetoric, you score an own goal. I just wasted twenty minutes having to respond to this nonsense.

    You really need to understand that when grassroots Democrats read attacks on “Democrats” we see that as including us. I understand all the arguments against working as Democrats, have voted for small party candidates at all levels at times, and worked actively to build the Labor Party in the ’90s. But the current alternatives on offer in the current context are not persuasive enough to treat is as matter principle rather than tactics, IMO.

    Most of my politics is movement politics, not party or electoral politics. Please have the good grace to respect your comrades who make different assessments than you do about the importance of party politics.

  • SinglePayer2017

    There is nothing wrong about pushing Sanders — and his supporters– from the Real Left; your characterization of this political position as merely “not liking Bernie” shows a serious weakness in perceptive skills, outside the Duopoly-paradigm in particular…..which is the Whole Point of the Green Party, Nader, and social movements. Without that pressure, Sanders is nothing but a $heepdog Democrat for the DNC. We love him too much to let that happen. Ditto for his supporters, who deserve better.

  • SinglePayer2017

    The DNC and Corporate Democrats deserve all the political discomfort that can be foisted upon them; beware of becoming a human shield for them. I would never spare you if you chose to be in that position.

  • Steve1027

    Well said Iowe76!! If movements expect to accrue the power necessary to challenge and defeat corporate America’s tyranny over our lives, then movements should expect to develop the power necessary to wrest control of the democratic party from the oligarchs like we plan on doing with society at large. If we cannot accrue the power necessary to do the latter, I have no clue how our movements would be able to take on the entirety of the oligarchy and not just the faction that controls the democratic party.

  • Steve1027

    You should be attacking the oligarchy-backed establishment in parallel with your comrades who push from the inside of the party. It’s called collaboration among like-minded people, something we should get better at instead of sniping each other from high horses. Labour in Britain had a lot of leftists join Labour which gave Corbyn too much support for the Blairites to overcome. The same may be possible here.

  • Steve1027

    Yeah, seriously, what’s up with the (off topic) Zionism? You’ll stand for poor people as long as they are not Palestinians?

  • lowe76

    Sanders Democrats at the grassroots are neither Corporate Democrats nor the DNC.

    You are smart, it isn’t that hard to write in a way that consistently distinguishes grassroots Democrats whom we need as part of our movement along with many non-affiliated and small party people and the 20% or so of Republicans who are gettable.

    Writing and headlines that persistently refuse to engage grassroots Democrats and lump us with Corporate Democrats does not help to build the movement. Writing that treats us as dupes or sheep actually misses an opportunity to build credibility for people who choose to pursue a small party strategy, IMO, by putting us in a position of being patronized by the small parties when we are not being written about as if we are enemies.

    If I thought your strategy posed a threat to Corporate Democrats I would join it. Right now it doesn’t look that way to me. And it also looks to me like you are putting your partisan hobby horse interests above building the organized multi-party power that the single payer movement needs, at times. Not always, but too often.

    You could have responded to me by encouraging me to put pressure on Sanders about doing the wrong thing and to be public about it, for example. Instead you chose to threaten me metaphorically. That’s no way to build a movement IMO. I hope you will think about this though this kind of communication tends to polarize things so I’m not going to count on it.

    Thank you for your work for single payer and let’s try to stay focused on unity in action to that end.

  • SinglePayer2017

    The DNC Lawyer told the court: We don’t Need voters. It doesn’t get clearer than that — even though Greens already knew. Don’t know how good you are at Math, but 3% is more than 0% Chance, which is the actual chance Bernie had, if you take the DNC’s Lawyers’ word for it; some of us didn’t need even that. If Progressive Democrats made more noise about Rank-Choice Voting, I would be less inclined to call you $heepdog DemocRats-in-training who carry poisoned water for the DNC: Until then…..you fight the inside as hard as you can; just take care not to offer that DNC Kool-Aid Poison to those who prefer to fight on the outside; you might spill some on your shirt. Pushing Berniecrats from the Real Left makes Perfect Sense.

  • SinglePayer2017

    In case you missed it…that’s precisely what I just did.

  • Steve1027

    Wrong response button