Dems: Now Is Not the Time to be Fighting with … Other Dems

BELL VIEW-I wish I could draw because I can see a perfect political cartoon in my head. On one side of the frame Trump, Ryan, Mnuchin, and Sessions are feeding poor children into a sausage grinder; on the other an outraged hipster is foaming at the mouth pointing in the direction of a Democratic politician and screaming: “He said LGBT, not LGBTQ!” When Republican voters talk about how political correctness is destroying America, they’re right. Just for the wrong reason. Political correctness is destroying America by distracting otherwise decent Americans from the carnage happening right under their noses. 


Seriously, how much outrage can you spare for Nancy Pelosi when Trump and his cronies in Congress are literally sentencing poor children to an early death so guys like Wilbur Ross can buy their kids an extra pony for their third-favorite summer house? 

The latest example of back-stabbing betrayal from the Democratic Party took place last week, when CA Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon shelved the Senate’s single-payer healthcare bill. The California Progressive Democratic Caucus accused Rendon and Governor Brown of "moral cowardice" and all but called them out as lackeys for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. 

I understand the outrage. This debate has been going on for decades and the time has come to wrap this up. I’ve never lived in a single-payer system, so I can’t tell you from experience what it’s like. But I’ve lived in the American system my whole life and I don’t need a study from the Congressional Budget Office to tell me it stinks. California – as the largest state economy in the country – can be an example to rest of the country for the workability of single-payer healthcare. 

But, for that to happen, the system has to work. You want to put a nail in the coffin of single-payer healthcare in America for the rest of time? Implement it in California and have it turn into a disaster. I don’t know all the ins and outs of such a healthcare system, but we damn well better get it right the first time. Although Rendon took the hit this time for killing single-payer, maybe some of the blame has to fall on the Senate for putting together a bill in haste. 

Haste? Yeah, I know, we’ve been talking about this since the 90s. It’s time to pull the trigger already. But before we start accusing the Democrats of being just as bad as the Republicans, let’s try to get a little perspective. California Democrats have passed through the Senate a single-payer healthcare bill in the largest economy in America. In Washington, House and Senate Republicans are hammering out a plan to cut a billion dollars from Medicaid and funnel that money to the super-rich. Is it just me, or does that sound like two political parties headed in different directions? 

I have a lot of progressive friends itching for an excuse to dump the Democratic Party as a vehicle for opposing the Republican dismantling of the American system. But, unless we can amend the Constitution, it’s never going to work. Sure, in a parliamentary system minority parties can have a seat at the table – but in our winner-take-all system, voting for third-party candidates always has the perverse effect of supporting the candidate you disagree with the most. Real progressives, who see both parties as perpetrating the same corrupt system, have been working overtime to convince themselves that the Democrats are just as bad as the Republicans. 

The only problem with this argument is its self-evident ridiculousness. The Democrats are not the same as the Republicans. Sure, they’re bought-out corporate hacks, but they’re our bought-out corporate hacks, and we might as well put them to good use. So, primary these guys – pull the party kicking and screaming the direction we want it to go. Get to work on that single-payer healthcare bill, and, in the meantime, start drawing up the papers to put it on the ballot (if you think you got the votes). Now is not the time to be fighting with each other. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. And, if you think Jerry Brown and Anthony Rendon are your true enemies, then you need to get out more.


(David Bell is a writer, attorney, former president of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and writes for CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.