The Intercept, a progressive political website famous for criticizing various figures in the Democratic establishment (and played a not-insignificant role in derailing Lori Swanson’s failed Minnesota gubernatorial bid last year), recently published this article accusing Former U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (DNPL-ND) for using One Country, a non-profit organization founded by Heitkamp and Former U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) designed to encourage Democrats to try to win more votes in rural America, “as an opportunity to speak out against Medicare for All”:
Last month, former Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., announced the launch of the One Country Project, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, to bring rural voters back to the Democratic Party. The group has already started working with the Democratic National Committee, according to Axios. Time Magazine reported that Heitkamp is using “leftover campaign funds” for the project.
Records show the One Country Project’s website is registered to an executive at Forbes Tate Partners, a lobbying and public relations firm founded by former Clinton administration officials. The lobbying firm is leading the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), the health industry-backed nonprofit created to crush momentum for a comprehensive universal health care system.
Heitkamp has used the launch of the One Country Project as an opportunity to speak out against Medicare for All. “Polling indicates that most Americans are satisfied with the health care they receive and do not want their coverage options taken away and replaced with a one-size-fits-all government program,” she wrote in a Washington Post op-ed last week that echoed PAHCF talking points.
Donnelly and Heitkamp both campaigned against Medicare for All during their failed re-election bids, even though polling by Data for Progress and the Kaiser Family Foundation last year found that 55 percent of Democratic voters in Indiana and 51 percent in North Dakota support Medicare for All. Heitkamp lost her 2018 race by 11 points, Donnelly by almost six.Source
As someone who is a supporter of efforts to implement Medicare for All, if this is how The Intercept is trying to advocate for abolishing private-sector health insurance in America and replacing it with a single-payer health insurance system, they’re going about it all wrong.
Consider this an important lesson for progressives. If you’re going to make the status quo, which, in the case, is a health insurance system dominated by private-sector health insurers, with many Americans receiving insurance as part of a benefits package through their employer, unpopular, you need to make the status quo unpopular, not the people who oppose the change that you believe is necessary. For multiple reasons, the private-sector health insurance system in this country is completely inefficient and typically doesn’t cover every single medical expense for medically-necessary procedures, treatments, etc., but there hasn’t really been an effort by progressives in this country to make the private-sector health insurance industry unpopular.
The article on The Intercept about Heitkamp and Donnelly opposing Medicare for All doesn’t try to make the status quo unpopular. All it does is play into an ongoing narrative that the Democratic establishment is waging a political war on progressives, which appeals to a segment of left-of-center voters in this country who have a negative opinion of the Democratic establishment and nobody else, which is not even close to a clear majority of Americans. The article criticizes Heitkamp, Donnelly, One Country, and the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), among other persons/entities, but doesn’t really criticize the private-sector health insurance system in any way. In order to make Medicare for All anything close to a political reality, enough Americans must be convinced that the private-sector health insurance industry is completely and totally inefficient, and that any attempt to reform or regulate the private-sector health insurance industry would be ineffective at ensuring that all Americans have access to health insurance.
Contrast the lack of any concerted effort by progressives to portray the health insurance status-quo as unacceptable to the efforts by supporters of the Green New Deal, most notably U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), to portray the status quo in regards to climate change and the environment as unacceptable. Granted, the Green New Deal, which is a legislative proposal by AOC, won’t be enacted by the current Congress, but AOC fully understands that. Instead, AOC has, by her efforts to promote the Green New Deal and portray the current status quo in regards to climate change and the environment as dangerous, shifted the Overton window, or the range of what is seen as politically possible, on climate change and the environment more towards her position, making effective change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more likely in the hopefully not-too-distant future. Any effort to make implementation of a single-payer or even a public-option health insurance system in this country politically viable is going to have to involve an effort to make the private-sector health insurance industry unpopular, similar to how AOC has made the status quo in regards to climate change and the environment unpopular.