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Single Payer: The Left's Best Shot At Winning Again

Judging by the humiliating defeat of Trumpcare on Friday, I don’t believe Republicans really thought they’d have the chance to repeal Obamacare. Conservative lawmakers, mostly elected on the premise of repealing the ACA, have had years to draft and perfect a plan to save our healthcare system, making them the heroes they pretended to be. Instead they put forth a half-baked ripoff of what we already have, with less protection, and still somehow hoped to reclaim the mojo they had gained from showcasing their hatred for Obamacare.

Trumpcare's pulled vote is obviously a developing situation and nobody’s really quite sure how this is going to be resolved. Will they go back to the drawing board, or will they limp ahead to something else to rally their theatrics around? Either way, it’s not going to look good for them no matter what decision they make. They just blew the moment of triumph they had been building to for years.

Democrats, whether they choose to realize it or not, have a major opportunity in front of them. Naturally, this depends on them finding the wisdom to shift their focus away from hoping Boris and Natasha are caught hiding behind the Oval Office curtains. Sure, we could keep tabs on the investigation into “Russian Involvement” and if solid evidence is presented (not simply the declaration that evidence exists), then of course there should be swift action on the matter. 

Regardless, now is the time to put the Russian controversy on the back burner, and punch back with a healthcare plan of our own. Something ambitious, something attainable (since most other wealthy countries have had this for decades), something exciting, and something that would culminate in unity that is organic, not manufactured; Single-payer healthcare!

To do that, here are some things have to recognize first:

1: Single-payer will not happen as long a Republicans rule

Let’s be very clear about something before we all agree to fight for this desperately needed healthcare system; single-payer will not happen in 2018. That’s the reality facing us with a Republican majority in congress. Since, for the moment, even most Democrats refuse to tout single-payer, it’s unrealistic to expect any Republicans holding office to ever consider it. That doesn’t negate the need to push it aggressively at every opportunity. Understanding the long game is key to making this happen. This is where understanding the difference between incrementalism and persistence will be key.

2: We’re going to have to thin the herd

To have a chance at instituting healthcare-for-all would require cleaning house in 2018 and 2020. Not just by unseating Republicans, but any elected Democrats who won’t get full steam behind it. That’s just how it is. We simply can’t afford electing faux-gressives who won’t back such a basic progressive policy anymore. 

Democrats skirting this issue has killed morale and driven voters to stay home in several elections now. We must find a nationwide slate of primary candidates who back single-payer and put everything we’ve got behind them all. This means even throwing efforts behind third party or independent candidates in safely blue districts for incumbent Dems who won’t get with the program if a primary opponent fails to beat them. Sure, in some Red State swing districts, we might lose a few seats but I guarantee that the groundswell of enthusiasm around single-payer would win many more. 

3: Coalitions would form long enough to win again 

Several factions on the left have developed throughout the 2016 election, causing internal friction within both the Democratic and Green Party, along with several splinter groups associated with each. Every organization based in different aspects of policy are fighting to make their voices heard above all others, causing millions of people who otherwise agree on most issues to fiercely oppose one another. I believe this is largely because there’s no singular issue we’re all taking steps toward addressing on the left. Everyone wants to live long healthy lives, so it stands to reason that single-payer could organically unify the Left around something actionable. What cause could be more worthy of putting our differences aside to achieve?

4: Democrats aren’t the only voters resisting the repeal of the ACA

In the midst of the national debate on healthcare, Republican congressman Mike Coffman was asked on a tele-townhall by a Republican constituent if Bernie Sanders had a point about single payer. Think about that for a moment. We’ve all seen reports on the thousands of Republican voters rethinking their stance on the ACA. This shows that we have a very real opportunity at convincing many of them to join us in the fight for single payer. It could conceivably even convince some Republicans to vote against their party in favor of Democrats who would vote yes on single-payer.

5: We must make the case that single payer is only progressive by American standards

We’ve all heard Bernie Sanders recite the slew of countries among the richest in the world who maintain the healthcare needs of their people. If we are to seriously consider ourselves the greatest nation on Earth, it starts with ensuring every one of us have our needs met. While there are conservative factions in those countries, free healthcare hasn’t been at the top of their kill list. That gives us pause for reflection on where American priorities lie.

6: The United States can’t go broke, which makes the question “Who’s going to pay for it” overly simplistic at best

I’m certainly no professor of economics. I understand the basics enough to buy and sell things, as most of us grasp with varying degrees. It’s not exactly the sexiest of topics, but it’s incredibly important. Here’s something most people don’t know, something I didn’t understand myself until watching videos from Steven Grumbine with Real Progressives and following up with other sources. As a monetarily sovereign nation, we have the resources, the workforce, and the money to fund single-payer. The benefit to monetary sovereignty, is that we can’t go broke. Knowing that we can afford to drastically increase the jobs, facilities and education in the healthcare industry without a significant burden to taxpayers makes it all the more heinous that any politician doesn’t full-throatedly endorse it. 

Here’s the bottom line, even if we don’t see the Republicans lose a complete majority in 2018, a united front on single payer between now and then will set the course for a blowout in 2020. Combine that with a presidential nominee who runs with it on their platform, and we’ll take back the House, Senate, state legislatures, governorships, remove Donald Trump from the Oval Office, and most importantly, live longer, healthier lives. If Democrats fail to capitalize on the Republicans fumbling on Trumpcare in a real way, their electoral future and our literal future might be much bleaker. That, or progressives may just have to set up shop elsewhere.

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