Senator Bernie Sanders has announced that he is going to introduce his Medicare for All bill in the Senate—and hold a hearing. This is most welcome news. As Bernie campaigned for the presidency, he elevated national single payer health care, an improved Medicare for All, into the public spotlight and onto the nation’s agenda. His advocacy for Medicare for All informed millions and lifted spirits building hope that a universal single payer plan is possible in the US. He has not done that well at writing legislation. His most recent bill, the Medicare for All Act of 2019 (S. 1129), falls short of essential single payer principles and lets stand billions in profits that will undermine care and steal public funds.
Activists in the U.S. have debated race and class for decades to no resolution. Nonetheless, in this moment of U.S. imperial decay and crisis, the debate over whether race or class takes precedence in the struggle for liberation from U.S. capitalist and imperialist domination rages on. Two prominent strands of the debate have emerged over the last year which intersect with the rise of Bernie Sanders-led “democratic socialists” and the uprising against racist policing led by the slogan “Black Lives Matter.” For many leaders of the Sanders camp, white supremacy is either a distraction or a secondary issue that can be addressed through the amelioration of class exploitation vis-à-vis policies such as Medicare for All.
The COVID-19 epidemic has exposed the privatized US healthcare structure’s woeful incapacity to cope with a general health emergency, as well as the failings of Europe’s austerity-shrunken public health care systems. Although Donald Trump’s actions, inactions and idiotic blatherings have added immeasurably to the death toll, a major medical and economic catastrophe was inevitable once the virus was loosed on a defenseless U.S. public. Trump didn’t create the conditions that made the United States so vulnerable to a killer virus. That’s one of the many crimes of capitalism, which at its late stage is methodically starving what’s left of the public sphere and privatizing every conceivable human enterprise for the ultimate benefit of the Lords of Capital – the ruling oligarchy.
That Sanders was once the frontrunner and might have swept the Democratic primaries is an indicator of the neoliberal order’s decay. The coronavirus pandemic was both the final blow to the Sanders campaign and the world-historic event that proved unquestionably that his platform of universal health care and fairness to the working class was the medicine needed for an ailing nation. Shelter-in-place is Biden’s strong suit, while Sanders’ contagious ability to enthuse the youth was sequestered. And, no, Biden’s healthcare public option is not even a baby step towards universal health care. Sanders’ parting remark on April 8 was “we have won the ideological battle.” Of course, ideas don’t have agency on their own. The battle is to organize a progressive constituency and not self-defeat by tethering to the Democratic Party.
Unsurprising. There was always a stark contradiction between Bernie’s call to a political revolution and his steady promise to support the eventual nominee at the Democratic convention. The new crew of young socialists who were inspired by the Sanders campaign must now learn their own lessons on their own timeline. Some will be willing recruits to the paid apparatus of the Democratic Party. Some will take Bernie’s advice to vote for Biden. Some will refuse and finally split to an independent socialist movement. In a week in which the death toll of the new coronavirus pandemic is still rising in this country, the actual fractures and failures of the existing medical and political system are also brutally exposed.
As 2019 comes to a close and we enter a new decade, we look back at the major events and issues that shaped the year with Chris Hedges. We discuss the rise of the Right, in part due to the weaknesses of the Left, what the Sanders campaign means for activism and achieving meaningful social change and whether or not the United States is ready for a massive uprising against neo-liberalism, as is happening around the world. The next decade will be a time when major crises such as the climate, wealth inequality and militarism are devastating. At some point, a spark will be lit in the US, but in the current environment, that is likely to result in greater movement to the right unless we prepare now to build power on the left.
We support the position of more than 25,000 people who signed a petition during your presidential campaign urging you to take on militarism. We believe that Dr. King was correct to assert that racism, extreme materialism, and militarism needed to be challenged together rather than separately, and that this remains true. We believe this is not only practical advice, but a moral imperative, and — not coincidentally — good electoral politics. During your presidential campaign, you were asked repeatedly how you would pay for human and environmental needs that could be paid for with small fractions of military spending. Your answer was consistently complicated and involved raising taxes.
On April 11, the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, announced that he was betraying a 55% majority of Burlington voters and a 75% majority of his city council that had opposed basing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at the Burlington Airport in South Burlington. The mayor betrayed his constituents in the limpest way, not by vetoing the popular resolution opposing the F-35, but by sending it on without his signature, while appending a dishonest and misleading cover letter inviting unelected leaders to have their way with Vermont.
By Staff for RT. John Kiriakou, a former CIA counterterrorism officer, has told RT that he was kicked off a panel at the European Parliament because a fellow panelist objected to his association with Russia as a Sputnik Radio host. Kiriakou, who spent two-and-a-half years in jail for exposing the CIA’s torture program in 2007, was invited to address the European Parliament on national security whistleblowing Wednesday. However, he was bounced from the panel at the last minute, because one of the other panelists objected to his presence. Kiriakou told RT he “thought it was a joke” when Winnie Wong, co-founder of the progressive organization, People for Bernie, refused to appear on the panel with him, because “she didn’t want the appearance of Bernie Sanders appearing to endorse the Russian media.” “I laughed when she first said it because it was so ridiculous that I thought she was joking,” Kiriakou said. “Then she walked away, and one of the aides handed me an updated schedule, and my name then, was not associated with the first panel.”
By Michael Corcoran for FAIR. It is a sad reflection on the state of healthcare reporting in the United States that one can so easily predict how many media outlets will respond to a news event before it even happens. Yet for many familiar with years of media either ignoring or rejecting the merits of a universal public healthcare system—Canada’s in particular—it was hard not to expect dismissiveness and/or mockery from outlets such as the New York Times and Vox, who sent reporters on the tour. The results were unsurprising. Vox (10/31/17) used the occasion to explain why single-payer is likely a pipe dream that doesn’t fit with American values. Much of the Times article (11/2/17) read like satire aimed at mocking Canada and Sanders. A New York Times ad circulating on Facebook proudly declares: “Evidence-driven reporting. No matter what the subject.” It’s a hollow boast to those familiar with the paper’s uniformly negative coverage of single-payer.
By Theo Anderson for In These Times. The grassroots fight for single payer, championed by Bernie Sanders, has thoroughly reframed the healthcare debate over the past year. That became clear during CNN’s Monday night healthcare debate between Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). The debate came as Republicans labor, Sisyphus-like, to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Graham said in his opening remarks that the debate was about “who we want to be as a nation.” Cassidy said that it was about who has power.