Greetings Blogging Blue readers! It’s been quite some time since I’ve graced these pages with my particular brand of progressive proselytizing, but the moment that’s upon us is one that even this cynical, jaded, retired and tired old man (sort of) can’t sit back and ignore any longer. So pour yourself a cup of coffee, or grab a beer, and brace yourself for a preachy rant delivered in my best “get off my lawn! ” tone, though I guess what I’m actually suggesting is that you “ get on my lawn!”. Here goes!
On Thursday, December 5th, the political arm of Iowa’s largest progressive member organization, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI), formally endorsed Bernie Sanders for President at their headquarters in Des Moines followed by a Medicare for All action event. The endorsement comes at a crucial juncture for Sander’s campaign as the Iowa Caucuses are scheduled to begin on February 3rd, 2020. With thousands of members across Iowa the ICCI is poised to boost Sanders fortunes with a lot of boots on the ground, and their position on Medicare for All should be a clarion call to progressives across Wisconsin to ramp up their efforts to pass the real solution to America’s health care crisis, and to support the candidates and organizations that will campaign on it.
ICCI is the Iowa state affiliate of the national organization , People’s Action, which endorsed Medicare for All last January, and the Wisconsin affiliate is Citizen Action of Wisconsin, (CAW), which also endorsed M4All in a statement on their website last July. Among the 118 Democrat co-sponsors of the Medicare for All Act of 2019 in the US House of Representatives , only Mark Pocan is listed from Wisconsin. Conspicuously missing are Dem Reps Ron Kind and Gwen Moore. Given that Citizen Action operates organizing cooperatives in both Kind and Moore’s congressional districts, as well as a statewide “ Health Care for All “ co-op, the progressive members of these co-ops should follow Iowa’s lead and apply a steady campaign of public pressure on both Kind and Moore to sign onto the bill. Raising the profile of M4ALL in these congressional districts can begin to influence the health care conversation and lay the groundwork for a CAW endorsement of Bernie Sanders before the Wisconsin Democratic presidential primary next April.
In the electoral arena Wisco Progressives have the opportunity to back Dem primary candidates who are actively campaigning on Medicare for All.
In the 7th congressional district the February 18th special election primary will feature Democrats Lawrence Dale and Tricia Zunker. During her campaign announcement on October 14th in Wausau, Zunker addressed health care and made remarks that sounded more like Heritage Foundation talking points than the views of a democrat running for congress. At roughly the 7:50 mark in a video of the event Zunker says “and some democrats want to end private insurance and push everyone into a government run system “. The strategy here seems to be……. what? If you’re running to fill the seat vacated by Sean Duffy you should talk like him? She goes on to say she supports Medicare for All who want it, borrowing a phrase from Pete Buttigieg. The attacks on Medicare for All by Buttigieg and echoed by candidates like Zunker are, in my opinion, a sure fire way to alienate the very voters Dems need to win congressional seats and the White House. It’s one thing to disagree with the policy, it’s quite another to use GOP talking points during the course of your disagreement.
Lawrence Dale, on the other hand, is something of a Green New Dealer who supports Medicare for All and was a Sanders delegate from Vilas County during the 2016 election cycle. While the Dale for Congress campaign is without a doubt the long shot in this race, if you back Bernie and M4ALL you should consider backing Lawrence Dale in the 7th CD.
And for the second time in four years Ron Kind will have a primary challenger in the 3rd congressional district. Kind has been taking heat from single payer advocates for years, recently telling constituents in La Crosse that he’s not ready to sign onto a single payer bill. Kind’s opponent in the August 2020 Dem primary will be retired La Crosse pediatrician Mark Neumann. Since 2017 Neumann has been a staunch advocate of Medicare for All and most recently was one of the featured speakers on the topic at Fighting Bobfest in Stevens Point. Again, if you back Bernie and M4ALL Neumann is your candidate.
So the upshot, dear progressive reader, is this: In spite of passage of the Affordable Care Act almost ten years ago, health care costs remain a top concern of the American people. There is a groundswell of support for Medicare for All bubbling up across the country, more so than at any other moment in our lifetimes. Now is the time to press our elected officials to get on board, and to back the progressive candidates who are already on board. Let’s do it.