This week, in a landslide vote (Yes 36 – No 125 – Abstain 3), members of the Democratic National Convention Platform Committee showed us who they really are by voting against an amendment to add Medicare for All to the party platform.
Let us say that again: Democratic party officials feel so strongly that the most vulnerable among us do not deserve even the most basic medical care — during a global pandemic in the country with the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, where Black, Brown, and poor people are dying at much higher rates than everyone else — that they decided to make it official: To solemnly swear that they are, indeed, up to no good.
In stark contrast, members of Our Wisconsin Revolution and the people of Wisconsin have made it abundantly clear what we want and what we are fighting for. As coronavirus cases continue to spike across Wisconsin, with millions of people losing health care as they are laid off from their jobs, 13 progressive candidates took a pledge to support single-payer, publicly funded health care on the federal, state, and local levels at the Our Wisconsin Revolution Forum on Health Care Policy held July 18. Days before the forum, the La Crosse County Board made history by passing a resolution in support of Medicare for All.
The Democratic Party once claimed to be the party of the working class — but there isn’t a shred of evidence that this is still the case. In fact, the members of the 2020 Platform Committee appointed by DNC Chair Tom Perez are the antithesis of working class representation. As Thomas Neuberger explains in CommonDreams:
“It certainly appears possible that the primary goal of the DNC is to guarantee the continuous flow of corporate dollars to DNC coffers and approved consultants and lobbyists. In that sense, the whole organization seems focused first on insider jobs and wealth security.”
We are aware that the platform vote on Medicare for All was non-binding, but to vote against this amendment was unconscionable and utterly indefensible. We often talk about how Trump’s brazen remarks embolden some people in his party to be more overtly racist/xenophobic/sexist/classist/homophobic — but the effect of an “emboldened” culture is not partisan.
Biden has stated, on more than one occasion, that he would veto a Medicare for All bill should it arrive on his desk. At a minimum, during the primary election season, candidates whose former statements and records did not align with a Medicare for All platform at least made the effort to adopt the rhetoric to some degree, because they know how exceedingly popular Medicare for All is among their constituents.
But the mask is off now — we don’t even get the courtesy of lip service anymore, and the contempt that party elites have for the people is on full display. Biden is the current de facto party leader, and because he has no problem writing off our lives as expendable, there is nothing stopping party officials from following suit.
Even though 88% of Democrats and 68% of Independents support a Medicare for All system, the message delivered by DNC and DNC-affiliated members at the Platform Committee meeting Monday was clear: They do not believe health care is a human right. Frankly, they do not care whether we live or die. If they did, they would not have voted down the addition of the most widely supported universal health care plan in existence to their official party platform.
The Democratic Party performatively attaches #BlackLivesMatter and/or #BrownLivesMatter to all of its messaging while simultaneously disavowing a bill that, if written into law, would literally save the lives of tens of thousands of the roughly 15 million people of color whom the Affordable Care Act fails to protect — a disproportionate impact, given that the total number of people not covered by the ACA is roughly 30 million.
Those who have the ability but not the will to legislatively support Medicare for All are effectively signing death warrants for tens of thousands of people each year. This is because the current for-profit “health care” system is one that criminalizes poverty, the punishment for which is chronic sickness and even death. Our so-called justice system lets murderers and war criminals off easier than that, so where is the justice for the tens of thousands of poor, Black, and Brown folks who die each year due to lack of health care?
The reality is that if #BlackLivesMatter or #BrownLivesMatter to the powers that be, they would not hesitate to shout from the rooftops their support of Medicare for All. They would not say “now is not the time,” because while the elite are deciding who gets to live and who gets to die, real people are actually dying — and they don’t have time to wait.
If you scold people for seeing Medicare for All as a litmus test to earn their support, take a moment to think about the privilege you have that allows you to say things like “maybe later” or just a flat-out “no.”
We are tired of having our most basic human needs be referred to as litmus tests or ponies or anything that implies what we are asking for is not essential for sustaining human life. We do not have another 10 years for the powers that be to run out the clock with distractions and intentional misinformation, waiting for our fire to burn out.
Our litmus test is pretty simple: Tens of thousands of people not dying each year from preventable causes, including, but not limited to, medical bills, climate change disasters, police brutality, homelessness, poverty, etc. If any party refuses to support a bill that makes health care an absolute right, or rejects a candidate who support such policies, then that party is complicit in the pain and suffering of our most marginalized populations.
In closing, we have a message for the powers that be:
We’ve had enough of the platitudes, so to those of you who have built your careers on platitudes without substance — we see you. Do not underestimate us, because we will never let you rest as long as there are fatal consequences to your glaring indifference. We will fight until our last breath so that others may continue to draw theirs. Our clocks are ticking — but your days in office are numbered, should you continue to prioritize your donors over human lives. Either make a concerted effort to lift up our nation’s most vulnerable — or step aside and get out of the way.
If you refuse to do your job, we’ll find people who will.