Will the Real Socialist Healthcare Please Stand Up?

Erica Smiley | Political Affairs | October 1, 2009

While in a Florida union hall recently (yes, Florida!), I heard several members discussing the right-wing attack on Obama’s healthcare plan as a gateway to socialism, at which point one woman asserted, “If the public option is socialism then socialism is what we need!”

Ironically, when stopping at a turnpike rest stop later that week, I was overwhelmed by three busloads of New Jersey Tea Party activists returning from the September 12th “anti-Obama-care” rally in DC.

From these two brief experiences, I wondered why we weren’t taking more of an opportunity to engage working people in this battle of ideas.

Just like the Florida union activist, the “Tea-baggers” are often working-class individuals who are facing job loss, housing foreclosure, cuts in social services, etc. Just like the union activist, these extreme conservatives are angered by the negative impact on their lives of global finance capitalism in the form of factory closings or increased gas prices.

Yet, unlike the union member they blame the public sector, are persuaded by racism, and live in constant fear that the federal government, and President Obama in particular, is going to take away their freedom. You know … the freedom to not have healthcare, the freedom to not have a job, the freedom to not have a house.

The Tea Party Movement, supported by the large insurance companies and other sectors of finance capital and the ultra right, offers simplistic solutions to otherwise complex problems – not unlike the neo-fascist BNP (British National Party) in Britain or the Nazis in pre-World War II Germany. This we all know.

But what solutions are we offering?

In the current political moment, we obviously want the public option to prevail. If it doesn’t, it will be a damaging defeat for the Obama administration and the progressive agenda. But when the front page of the New York Times recently indicated that winning a public option is slipping away from the Obama administration, while reporting the Washington Tea Party protest as bigger than it really was, we need to fight back. After all, the Tea Partiers are not slowing down. They are planning another series of national demonstrations in October.

Our fight-back requires a strategy different from simply defending the Obama administration and the public option itself. As Communists, focusing primarily on defending the current plan does not provide Obama with any new political capital to get this thing through.

Let’s define what is meant by political capital in this particular fight. First of all, the administration won’t win anything without a visible mass movement of working people engaging in an active, vocal struggle for universal healthcare. The health care reform movement has been growing in strength, but it needs to grow even stronger. This has been our main focus.

The ideological battle needs attention too, however. De-regulation, private enterprise and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is so entrenched in the American psyche, that the administration could benefit from from a genuinely socialist critique that points out the huge difference between a public health insurance option and socialized healthcare.

As real advocates for socialism, we need to step up and define what real socialized medicine is – a system where doctors, pharmacists, and hospital administrators are government employees. By doing so, add some clarity to the single-payer debate by debunking the myth that H.R. 676 (the United States National Health Insurance Act) is, for all its forward thinking, the “final fix.” We have the opportunity to open up the discussion and ask why something as important as healthcare is left in private hands at all.

On a more basic level, we need to put forward our opinions not simply in our own publications but in the broader press as well. Party organizations could hold our own public town hall meetings on the healthcare question, where the public option can be discussed in the broader context of private industry versus the public sector. We can also take the discussion even further and demand that the next stimulus package include funding to set up hospitals in the areas that need them most, with loan forgiveness for doctors and nurses who work there on a government salary. All of these are just a sampling of ideas of how we can help push a public option through, while broadening long-term support for universal public health care in general.

If there was ever a moment to talk about socialism, it is now. On September 14, 2009 the New York Times published an on-line forum discussion entitled “What is Socialism in 2009?” Back in March, the Nation magazine ran a similar story. The Communist Party also needs to be engaged in this discussion.

Let’s get ourselves more decisively to the table!

The Tea Party people, the general public, and the members of Congress who will ultimately make or break the public option, need to know that the present public option proposal is really a compromise solution and a far cry even from single-payer, and that we (tea-baggers included) need much, much more than that in order to achieve a truly socialist, universal healthcare system.


About rico49

Writer, progresive activist, open source software developer. Working to meet the needs of under- and un-employed people globally and in the United States.
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One Response to Will the Real Socialist Healthcare Please Stand Up?

  1. jacksmith says:

    A majority of voters would rather have a Democrats only bill with a Public Option. Rather than a bipartisan bill without a Public Option.

    ATTENTION!! Congress Has The Votes Needed To Pass A Public Option – TODAY http://bit.ly/TCq7O

    Why A Strong Public Option Is Essential – By jacksmith – Working Class

    Robert Reich explains the pubic option: http://bit.ly/dDYSJ http://robertreich.blogspot.com/

    Hollywood Supports The Public Option 🙂 http://bit.ly/3XLwPi

    It’s not just because more than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 77% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (86% of democrats, 75% of independents, and 72% republicans). Basically everyone.

    It’s not just because according to a new AARP POLL: 86 percent of seniors want universal healthcare security for All, including 93% of Democrats, 87% of Independents, and 78% of Republicans. With 79% of seniors supporting creating a new strong Government-run public option plan, available immediately. Including 89% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 61% of Republicans, STUNNING!!

    It’s not just because it will lower cost. Because a strong public option will dramatically lower cost for everyone. And dramatically improved the quality of care everyone receives in America and around the World. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

    It’s not just because it will save trillions of dollars and prevent the needless deaths of millions more of YOU, caused by a rush to profit by the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!

    It’s not just because every expert in every field, including economist, and Nobel laureates all agree that free market based healthcare systems don’t work. Never have and never will. The US has the only truly free market based healthcare system in the World. And as you all know now, IT IS A DISASTER!

    It’s not just because providing or denying medically necessary care for profit motivations is wrong. Because it is WRONG! It’s professionally, ethically, and morally REPUGNANT!, Animalistic, VILE and EVIL.


    The public option is ESSENTIAL because over 200 million of you are trapped in the forest of the wolves. Which is the forest of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! With no way out except through needless inhumane suffering, and DEATH. While the wolves tear at your flesh, and rip you limb from lib. Then feast on your lifeless bodies like a dead carcase for transplant parts.

    At the most vulnerable times of your lives (when you were sick and hurting), millions of you have had to fight and loose cruel, but heroic battles. Fighting against the big guns of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! in the forest of the wolves. All because you have no place else to go. You have no other CHOICE!

    But the PUBLIC OPTION will give you someplace safe to go. And it will give us someplace safe to take you. The public option will be your refugium (your refuge). Where the wolves cannot get at you when your down, hurting, and vulnerable. Where everyone who needs it can find rest, security, comfort and the care they need. Protected by the BIG GUNS of We The People Of The United States. THE MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE AND COUNTRY ON EARTH.

    This is why it is so critical that we do not lead another 50 million vulnerable, uninsured Americans into the forest of the wolves, without the protections of a Strong Government-run MEDICARE like public option. We The People Of The United States MUST NOT LET THAT HAPPEN to any more of our fellow Americans. If healthcare reform does not contain a strong MEDICARE like public option on day one. YOU MUST! KILL IT. Or you will do far more harm than good. And millions more will die needlessly. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

    To those who would continue to obstruct good and true healthcare reform for the American people, and who seek to trap millions more vulnerable Americans in the forest of the wolves. We will continue to fight you. We are prepared to wage all out war against you, and will eagerly DESTROY! you. Time…is…UP! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! No Co-op’s! No Triggers! NO INDIVIDUAL MANDATES! without a Strong MEDICARE like public option on day one.

    Healthcare reform can be the GREATEST! Accomplishment of our time and century. A time when future generations may say of us, that we were all, AMERICAS GREATEST GENERATIONS.


    I therefore call on all my fellow Americans and the peoples of the World. To join us in this fight so that we may finish becoming the better America that we aspire to be for everyone.


    I have been privileged to be witness as many of you fought, and struggled to take your first breath, and your last breath on this earth. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Life is precious.

    Whatever the cost. WE! MUST SUCCEED.

    God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings

    jacksmith – Working Class

    Things You Can Do To Help NOW! http://www.everydaycitizen.com/2009/09/tired_of_watching_people_die_n.html

    No Triggers! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-rosenbaum/a-trigger-for-the-public_b_277910.html

    Triggers http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-sirota/weve-seen-these-triggers_b_283583.html

    Krugman on heathcare (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/why-markets-cant-cure-healthcare/)

    Senator Bernie Sanders on healthcare (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSM8t_cLZgk&feature=player_embedded)

    John Garamendi on the Public Option and the Grassroots: http://bit.ly/TJMty

    Howard Dean on the Public Option http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SKfW2dUnow&feature=player_embedded

    We’re Number 37! in quality of health care http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVgOl3cETb4&feature=player_embedded

    Twitter search (#welovethenhs #NHS #hc09 #hcr #healthcar #obama #p2 #topprog #) Check it out.

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