Opinion: Obama’s Endorsement Challenges Biden, Re-Imagines Presidency for the Future

Last Tuesday, former President Barack Obama gave his much-anticipated endorsement of his former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy. 

The endorsement was expected, of course, despite the wait Obama imposed, which seemed likely attributable to his preference to time his speech in the wake of Bernie Sanders’ own endorsement of Biden, creating a crescendo effect. read more

Opinion: Super Tuesday Could Bring Us Closer To Unity Or Bust

Super Tuesday might tell us which of the four remaining candidates is likely to become Donald Trump’s opponent. I’m not counting Tulsi Gabbard, given that she has yet to register a single percentage point in popular support. Call me crazy, but the last time I looked, having zero support precludes you from beating Donald Trump.

Of the four, one bought his way to this point and he did so with as little contact with actual voters as possible. Then there’s Bernie Sanders, who never stopped campaigning since he lost to Hillary Clinton in 2016. His followers are increasingly certain that only Bernie can solve all our problems.

For the record, they are not the only people using this approach.  However, Bernie is one of the two most likely to be the Democratic Party’s nominee.  Therefore, I’m focusing my attention on him.

I heard the savior argument before, and not just from Bernie supporters and Trump but also from far right and far left demagogues in several countries on multiple continents. I didn’t buy it before and I won’t buy it now. That doesn’t make me corporate, it doesn’t say a thing about my views on policies. It speaks only to my opposition to demagoguery.

This brings me to Elizabeth Warren, who doesn’t have a realistic chance of being the nominee. As much as I may believe she better represents the possibility of achieving a progressive agenda without revolution, this is not her time.

It looks like other former contenders are choosing to unite with Joe Biden. Some people see this as a corporate conspiracy. I see it as a desire to put forward the candidate most likely to win over the most diverse groups of American voters.

Still, Bernie Sanders supporters are numerous enough to matter and anyone who has been paying attention recognizes that. However, (and this is where the bros start tweeting insults at me) they are no more entitled to impose their views and ideology on others than anyone else. Their opinions and experiences are no more (and no less) valid than anyone else’s.

Perhaps there are some people who, as Michael Moore suggested, are afraid of Sanders and therefore backing Biden. I know that’s not the case with all Biden’s supporters because I actually bother to listen to them. Some people like Sanders and his ideas. But they want unity, not revolution. Some people don’t want socialism, and don’t see a difference between democratic socialism and socialism as such.

There are some people who are put off by Bernie’s supporters who are under the mistaken belief that being obnoxious wins votes. I understand their concerns after encounters with the more militant Bernie supporters. Those supporters think revolution is far more entertaining than democratic processes and yeah, we can just rebuild the country after it has been torn apart.

That was tried that in the former Yugoslavia and in the former Soviet Union. The idea of revolution as a political tactic comes straight out of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto – a document I studied in detail and rejected for too many reasons to get into here. One important reason is the fact that revolution tends to lead to violence, even if that wasn’t the intent, and rebuilding a country doesn’t necessarily mean the end product will be any better than what you started with. In the meantime, future generations are pretty much guaranteed a lifetime of poverty and oppression.

This observation doesn’t mean the answer is carrying on with business as usual. There are many of us who know that and whole heartedly embrace progressive ideas. However, embracing ideas that would, for example, guarantee everyone a living wage and assure that every wealthy person and corporation pays their share of taxes does not automatically mean being a Bernie bro’s doormat.

One can be all for a version of Medicare for all and yet recognize the odds are highly against congressional support. It would be stupid not to wonder what that means, especially now that the Supreme Court could rule that the gutted version of the ACA is unconstitutional. In short, the all-or-nothing approach advocated by some of Bernie’s supporters could mean leaving future generations with the same corporate “health care plan” that made Obamacare necessary.

I don’t believe in political saviors who come riding in on their horses, declaring that they will make our problems disappear.

None of us has all the answers. No theory is perfect. It took me a life time of learning and experiencing it to recognize that while nothing is perfect, there are some ideas that are worse than others. It’s why I’ll still insist on considering all candidates and their ideas before choosing one. It’s also why I refuse to allow anyone to bully or intimidate me, no matter how right they believe they are or how right I may believe their ideas or arguments are.

Either one accepts that all humans were created equal or one doesn’t. If you accept that all humans were created equal, it means you respect other people’s right to form their own opinions. No one owes you or your hero leader complete subordination.

I say this as a woman who was raped as a teenager. That was the day I learned how vicious and primal power is. I say it as a Holocaust survivor’s daughter who saw first-hand the scars that any ideological extreme leaves on the lives of survivors and on their subsequent generations.

I don’t have a preferred candidate. I do have preferred ideas and preferred tactics. Unfortunately, no one fits my criteria perfectly. Odds are that many of us have a similar quandary. So we’re left with two options. Either we trust and accept the will of the majority of voters and caucus participants, or we get four more years of Trump.

Of the remaining candidates, none is my idea of perfect, but every one of them is better than four more years of Trump. I hope we choose wisely and that those who are doing everything in their ability to antagonize people who happen to oppose their chosen one, will realize how short-sighted it is to alienate people who might be won over to their side. In the end, that’s what we’ve got to go up against a brainwashed army of maga automatons using voter intimidation, bullying and hate speech to impose their will on others.

The only advice I have is don’t give up your own voice to support a presidential candidate.

Sanders Opens 2020 Fight As He Launches New Medicare-for-All Plan

Bernie Sanders Healthcare Plan

Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is giving a new push to his 2020 campaign today by announcing a new version of his “Medicare for All” plan.

“What our system does is get rid of insurance companies and drug companies making billions of dollars in profit every single year,” Sanders told CBS News in an interview Wednesday.

Video:

.@edokeefe: “What happens to insurance companies after your plan is implemented…?"
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “If you want cosmetic surgeries. Under Medicare For All, we cover all basic healthcare needs.”
O'Keefe: “So basically Blue Cross Blue Shield would be reduced to nose jobs?” pic.twitter.com/ZPNSbgpT0g read more

Senator: McConnell is ‘Just trying to screw with Democrats’

GOP Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is using his power as Senate Majority Leader play political games and to pressure 2020 Democratic candidates, according to an article this morning in the Los Angeles Times.

McConnell sets the agenda for the Senate, and instead of introducing legislation to solve the nations’ problems, he is planning to bring to the Senate floor bills that are exclusively designed to “make Democratic senators uncomfortable.”

As Democratic Senator Chris Murphy (Conn.) said, McConnell “is just trying to screw with Democrats.”

Sometimes it seems like every Democrat in the Senate is running for president. That’s not true, but almost one out of every five Democratic senators actually does have plans to seek the presidency. With so many of his colleagues in the opposition party eyeing the White House, McConnell has decided he should do what he can to make their lives difficult.

For example, on Monday, McConnell forced the Senate to hold a vote on an anti-abortion bill that is very controversial. It has no chance of passing, but the vote required Democrats to take a public position on the bill, and McConnell hopes that will be used against them during the 2020 campaign.

In another high profile move, McConnell is planning a vote soon on a massive climate change plan called the Green New Deal. Again, the Majority Leader believes he will put Democratic presidential aspirants in an awkward position.

Most Democrats support stronger environmental protections and of course McConnell does not. So he’s bringing up the bill to focus voters’ attention on what he views as one of the Democrats’ most extreme ideas. He is hoping to also highlight intra-party divisions between progressives and moderates.

These are just two of the votes that McConnell is expected to force this year on high-profile and politically polarizing issues, according to the Times. One of them will certainly be the Medicare for All bill, introduced by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The

issue of healthcare is not easy read more

Women’s March Brings ‘Medicare for All’ Lobbying to Washington

As the Women’s March comes to Washington today they will be joined by other progressive organizations who spent the day Friday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of for “Medicare for All” legislation.

Members of several groups advocating for healthcare rights stormed Capitol Hill on Friday for a “lobby day” to begin an event-filled weekend as part of the annual Women’s March through the nation’s capital.

The Women’s March organization said that “thousands” of people participated in the lobbying push on Friday. Women’s March senior adviser Winnie Wong said that they hoped to carry their message to members of Congress that now is the time to take action to provide healthcare for all Americans.

Thousands of marchers came to Washington from all over the United States and while there they were able to go directly to their representatives’ offices on Friday to express their strong support for two different universal healthcare bills that have been introduced by progressives in the House and Senate.

“Healthcare for All” has been a unifying issue for progressive activists and lawmakers in recent years, with more and more Democratic politicians including it in their policy platforms.

During his presidential run in 2016, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had long advocated for single-payer healthcare, made universal healthcare for all Americans one of his primary platform positions. He introduced a bill in the Senate, and called it “Medicare for All” after the popular government program which provides health coverage for the elderly and disabled.

The Women’s March is seeking to drum up support for Sanders’ Senate bill as well as one expected to be introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Wong said that the Women’s March is supporting Jayapal’s bill, saying:

“It is the most comprehensive and inclusive single-payer bill of all the different ‘Medicare for All’ bills out there. We hope that she will be able to launch the bill with more co-signers than the previous bill had.”

A previous form of Jayapal’s bill, introduced by former Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) during the previous Congress, received 124 co-sponsors. Jayapal and others in the “Medicare for All” caucus in the House are revising Conyers’ bill, but the details have not yet been released to the public. There are concerns that it will be watered down and contain provisions providing for continuing excessive profits for health insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

Other progressive organizations that participated in the lobbying push Friday included Center for Popular Democracy, Healthcare Now, National Nurses United, and Physicians for a National Health Program.

Jennifer Epps-Addison, the director of Center for Popular Democracy Action, said in a statement:

“The grassroots energy over the past two years has brought us to a point where the people have the opportunity to set an agenda. With the most diverse Congress in history, we can turn our momentum into policy to improve the lives of all people in this country. We support Medicare for All because it ensures that all people can access the care that they need to thrive.”

The incoming Democratic chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), said this week that she intends to hold a hearing on several “Medicare for all” proposals.

Eshoo clarified on Thursday that she would hold the Medicare for All hearing “if the Health Subcommittee can get to it with perhaps a joint hearing with the other Committees that share jurisdiction.”

Democrats in the House are somewhat divided on the issue of universal healthcare, and there are questions about the future of the Medicare for All legislation. Newly-elected progressives believe that

the healthcare issue helped them win their elections read more

Ocasio-Cortez: ‘Death Panels’ Exist in the United States Now

Newly elected U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said Sunday that “death panels” currently exist in the United States. She said that the operation of the private health insurance market in effect condemns millions of people to sickness and death.

This happens if sick people don’t have the money to pay for care, and if for-profit insurance companies decide not to pay for life-saving treatments.

The term “death panels” was used almost a decade ago by 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Ocasio-Cortez made her comments about “death panels” in response to Jim Hanson, the president of the right-wing think tank Security Studies Group. She and Hanson exchanged Twitter posts about government intervention in the health care market, and what role government should play in providing healthcare to Americans.

“Actually, we have for-profit “death panels” now: they are companies + boards saying you’re on your own bc they won’t cover a critical procedure or medicine.”

“Maybe if the GOP stopped hiding behind this “socialist” rock they love to throw, they’d actually engage on-issue for once.”

Actually, we have for-profit “death panels” now: they are companies + boards saying you’re on your own bc they won’t cover a critical procedure or medicine.

Maybe if the GOP stopped hiding behind this “socialist” rock they love to throw, they’d actually engage on-issue for once. https://t.co/4P2TrflkFX read more

Pelosi Cuts Deal With Progressives and Guarantees She Will Be Speaker

Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who will co-chair the House Progressive Caucus next year, left a meeting with Nancy Pelosi late Thursday night and immediately announced that she would support Pelosi as Speaker of the House. She also proclaimed that Progressive Caucus members would have more seats on powerful committees in the new Congress, and thus would have much more influence over legislation.

She then tweeted:

For the next two years, as we lead into 2020, and are coming off this big wave, we need someone who is smart and strategic and has done this before. I fully support @NancyPelosi, a strong and progressive leader, for Speaker of the House.”

For the next two years, as we lead into 2020, and are coming off this big wave, we need someone who is smart and strategic and has done this before. I fully support @NancyPelosi, a strong and progressive leader, for Speaker of the House. https://t.co/JbyFudqxn6 read more