Why Backing Single-Payer from the Start Would Have Helped, Still Could

Here’s a blog from Digby acknowledging the reduction of the public option from where it started to next-to-nothing. It’s not clear whether Digby thinks it would have been smarter to start with single-payer, in order to end up with a better compromise than what you get by initially proposing the weakest plan you’ll settle for. But Digby argues that proposing single-payer from the start would not have given single-payer itself any chance of succeeding, and this is proven — Digby says — from the fact that the public option is having such a hard time succeeding. I can’t prove this is wrong. Everything Digby writes is smart and to the point. But this does omit an important factor or two. Namely: single-payer turns an obscure wonkish policy mush into a clear and comprehensible civil rights issue. Even with it blacked out and shunned by the White House and astroturfing activist groups, single-payer still has people sacrificing and going to jail for it. Nobody goes to jail for a public option. Nobody even knows what it is. Making healthcare a right rather than a legislative policy energizes people, and that potential has hardly been tapped and should not be written out of consideration.

Update: John Nichols gets it.

Update: Video: Glen Ford from Black Agenda Report gets it.

Update: Joe Szakos of Virginia Organizing Project went to jail this week for a public option, but nobody he’d organized went with him.

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