RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Galindez writes: "I am so tired of hearing people say they don't support litmus tests. If you can't judge candidates by their positions on issues, then how do you know who to vote for?"

Single Payer Now! (photo: Michael Fleshman)
Single Payer Now! (photo: Michael Fleshman)

Health Care Should Be a Litmus Test for Democrats

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

18 June 17


am so tired of hearing people say they don’t support litmus tests. If you can’t judge candidates by their positions on issues, then how do you know who to vote for? Too many people supported George W. Bush because he was a “good Christian man.” George Will is a great guy at a baseball game, but I disagree with him on the issues, and it is those disagreements that will cause me to not vote for him.

Healthcare is important to me, and if a candidate does not support single payer healthcare, they will not get my vote. I am not a single-issue voter; healthcare is not the only issue I care about. It is, however, a deal breaker.

I do not have time or money for any politician who does not support single payer healthcare. I don’t want to hear anyone say all we have to do is tinker with Obamacare. I do not support the current repeal efforts, only because they are not replacing it with single payer or a step in that direction.

I am working, paying for health insurance, and the current system is failing me. My insurer would rather pay for dialysis three times a week than pay for a kidney transplant. The private insurance system is not sustainable without allowing them to deny treatments. That is what Trumpcare would do. Young, healthy people would pay less for health insurance while older Americans would pay more and receive less.

Single payer has to be the ultimate goal. Currently, you get sick, go to the doctor if you have insurance, and the doctor gives you the treatment the insurance company approves – and even then you could go into debt paying your co-pay. Under single payer, you go to the doctor and get the treatment he thinks is best, and it is paid for by the government out of your taxes.

It is not free ... we pay for it out of our taxes. I want the government to guarantee me healthcare, education, electricity, clean water, and public safety. The market can take care of everything else. The market can determine the cost of my TV set, not my healthcare.

What would happen if the police started checking your ability to pay before accepting a call to your house? Healthcare is a necessity and should be the right of every human being on the planet.

Any Democrat who does not support single payer healthcare should be opposed in the next primary. On Election Day we sometimes have to hold our nose and vote for candidates who are better than the alternative, but on Primary Day we need to be running candidates we believe in. That is how we will create a Democratic Party we believe in. If your elected official or candidate for office does not support single payer healthcare, look for one who does.

The current healthcare fight is a little more complicated. Obamacare is not sustainable, and it needs to be replaced by single payer. Trumpcare, however, is not the answer. We must oppose repealing Obamacare without replacing it with single payer. Senate Democrats appear to be united on that, and it will only take a couple of Republicans to block replacing Obamacare with the cruel plan the GOP is proposing.

We do have to be careful, though, to make sure a Democrat like Joe Manchin doesn’t betray us. Medicaid expansion seems to be the key to killing the effort to repeal Obamacare this year. Conservative Democrats like Manchin do not want to explain why they gave up federal funding for expanded Medicaid. That will likely be why a few Republicans vote with the Democrats against repeal.

We should fight to stop a move backward on healthcare, but that should not be the end of our struggle. Single payer healthcare is the issue that progressives can unite around to take back the Democratic Party and then the country.

Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott moved to Des Moines in 2015 to cover the Iowa Caucus.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+32 # nice2bgreat 2017-06-18 14:12
"I am so tired of hearing people say they don’t support litmus tests. If you can’t judge candidates by their positions on issues, then how do you know who to vote for?" -- Scott Galindez

The Democratic Party has litmus tests, even if unspoken or are couched as imperatives, yet certainly not those rigid litmus tests.

The problem is which litmus tests that they champion.

Medicare for all, Single-Payer health care should be a Democratic Party litmus test. Climate-Change action and environmental justice should be a litmus test. Living wages should be a litmus test. Racial justice should be a litmus test. Progressive taxation -- with an emphasis on taxing investment and excessive inheritance -- should be a litmus test. Racial justice, as well.

Yet for the Democratic Party, the one issue that should not be a litmus test is the one championed by every corporatist Democrat -- Gun Control.

As Bernie Sanders (rightly) said early in his 2016 D-Party Presidential Primary campaign, "... I come from a rural state, and the views on gun control in rural states are different than in urban states, whether we like it or not. Our job is to bring people together around strong, commonsense gun legislation."

Not everybody agrees on guns.

Why alienate NASCAR nation -- Independents and the marginalized right, millions of voters -- most of which share economic kinship with Democratic voters and the left, who agree with progressives on Medicare for all and many other issues?
+4 # lfeuille 2017-06-18 18:11
I think being pro-choice politically should be a litmus test also regardless of what the candidate thinks he/she would want to do If they were ever found themselves in that position. That is no one else's business, but whether or not they would support anti-choice restrictions is.
+5 # tedcloak 2017-06-18 18:11
Agreed. Probably should say "improved" or "enhanced" Medicare for All, to include long-term care and complete reproductive health care.
+4 # lfeuille 2017-06-18 18:17
I think you are right about single payer, it should definitely be a litmus test. Personally, I would find it hard to vote for someone who opposed it, even in the general election.

And I hope the day will come when we can afford to have foreign policy litmus tests. For instance, an end to regime change, support for an independent Palestine.

And, while I'm thinking about it, an end to the surveillance state.
+3 # nice2bgreat 2017-06-19 11:06
I happen to agree with you all on pro-choice as a litmus. Had I not included racial justice twice (there are space and character limitations) and given two more seconds of thought, I'd have included pro-choice, as well as other issues that I suspected others might voice.

More important, it seems many missed my main point, that, it is the championing of anti-gun issues that effects electoral viability of Democratic candidates throughout ([mostly] non-urban centers of) the Country. This effects the otherwise progressive dynamics of Congress and possibly the US Presidency.

The result of anti-gun as a "progressive" litmus test is to doom all other leftist issues as contentious battles of compromise or loss, or completely off the agenda as "unrealistic".

So is it at all surprising that corporate D's champion it so?

One can easily see, through this recent leftist McCarthyism how easily rank-and-file lemming Democrats pile on and parrot establishment D-Party themes and talking points. And add to that the emotional aspects of gun violence and how long anti-gun memes have taken root.

What is interesting -- and not coincidentally, after Black Panthers began parading guns around publicly in the 60's -- is how, what used to be anti-war leftism became isolated nationally and co-opted within the D-Party as solely and separately (rigid D-Party doctrine) anti-gun.

Gun violence as a political issue should be addressed through education and economic opportunity.
+2 # LionMousePudding 2017-06-18 18:49
Please, the right of women to own their own bodies MUST be a litmus test!!
+4 # Femihumanist 2017-06-18 18:33
My biggest litmus test: Not killing, nor providing the weapons for killing, people all over the world.

How can you be against racism, violence, income inequality or any other injustice and be racist, violent, and treat people in other countries as if they're not really human? How can you say that people should be able to control their own bodies and love whomever they choose, while supporting blowing apart other people's bodies and their loved ones?
-9 # Charles3000 2017-06-18 19:16
This statement is untrue:."..and it is paid for by the government out of your taxes...." If you think taxes pay for something tell me how the government collected taxes before first spending money. The cycle is "spend and tax" not "tax and spend" as the idiot Ronnie spewed around the nation. Taxes defer inflation by destroying money. Google Ruml president of the NY Fed and read his paper about taxes. It was written in 1946.
+4 # tedrey 2017-06-18 19:19
Well for me, if there's a clear litmus test, it's the refusal to wage or support wars of choice. If I look at the Democratic voting record, it's clear that I should not join them, even if I agree with them on everything else. Which, if I want to win any of my desired goals, is nonsense.
+6 # Shorey13 2017-06-18 20:47
Litmus-shmitmus , the misnamed Democratic Party has been hijacked by moderate Republicans for years now. If you doubt me, read "Listen Liberal" by Thomas Frank. Here in California the Clinton faction just railroaded the Democratic Convention to elect their man, over considerable opposition why the REAL "Democrats." Or, at least what used to be the real Democrats.

Scott, please tell Bernie and Elizabeth that there is no future for them in that party. It is past time for a Progressive Party that can eagerly support Single Payer and Anti-Trust action and higher taxes on the rich and corporations, and stopping Climate change, and reversing all the antediluvian repeals being implemented by Trump and the sociopathic Republican Congress.
0 # Robbee 2017-06-18 20:55
Y E S !
+5 # REDPILLED 2017-06-18 21:24
In Georgia's special election this Tuesday, 'Democrat' Jon Ossoff does NOT support single-payer Medicare for All. Neither do Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.

Who the hell do these people represent, the majority of people, or their insurance corporation funders?

Screw them, until they wake the hell up!
0 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2017-06-19 11:15
In today’s political environment, too many people think that if they want something to mean “X”, well then. It DOES mean “X”. But no… it doesn’t.

A ”litmus test” is not just an issue you feel strongly about or a position on an issue that you would really, really like a candidate to support. The fact is, as Galindez pointed out, a litmus test is a DEAL BREAKER.

In science, a litmus test is conducted by applying the liquid to be tested onto a piece of litmus paper. If blue litmus paper turns red, the liquid is acidic. It doesn’t become alkaline if the sun is shining or if the temperature is over 40°F. It’s ACIDIC. Similarly, if I will not vote for any candidates who are not pro-choice, no matter how many other progressive positions they hold, then for me, being pro-choice is a litmus test. However, if Candidate A isn’t pro-choice but holds a large number of other positions that I favor so I am willing to vote for Candidate A despite his not being pro-choice, then for me, being pro-choice is NOT a litmus test.

Very few Progressives have litmus tests because we can’t afford the luxury. There is SO much wrong with what we have allowed our gov’t to become that any candidate who agrees with most of how we think is acceptable.

Despite Scott’s protests to the contrary, I doubt he’d just stay home for a primary if all the candidates were against single payer but one of them favored most of the positions that Scott favors.
0 # librarian1984 2017-06-19 17:35
I consider healthcare a legitimate litmus test. If a candidate does not support single payer I won't vote for them.

But further, I don't believe a real progressive would not support single payer, so it's a litmus test not only for its own sake but because, I believe, their position on that issue informs me about their placement on the neoliberal-prog ressive scale.

I am NOT voting for establishment Democrats again. I support, with my resources and my vote, ONLY progressives ffrom here on out and, at least for now, I will know them by their stance on health care.
+1 # Femihumanist 2017-06-19 14:26
You can't separate issues if you truly want one ethical world. We can't separate into "our needs" and "their needs" whether it's health care, non-violence, income equitability, or any other factor.

And it has to pertain to the entire world; not just one's own religion, neighborhood, race, community, state, ethnicity, country, abilities, inheritance, or any other single isolated factor.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.