Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders spoke for months about his “historic” efforts to get a vote on a single-payer health care bill in the Senate. While we all knew the outcome was going to be a rather miserable failure, it was a tiny crumb being flicked to those of us who still believe in both real solutions to the health care crisis AND the possibilities of democracy.
Sanders was correct to intuit that this kind of vote is essential to keep a movement alive, offer some hope, and simply record the moment in history. The entire effort is about seeing where we stand, knowing how far we have to go, and putting both the general public and the electoral elite on notice that we know where we’re going.
Historically, similar “failed” measures were introduced to end slavery, to give women the right to vote, to provide equal rights to minorities and – yes – to end wrong-headed wars. An effective movement must know which side everyone is on, and such votes – albeit failures – provide that organizational and motivational insight.
Bernie had all of this in mind while he talked the talk in the months preceding the historic single-payer health care vote. Because Bernie knows his history, and he also knows – like the rest of us who utilize common sense know – that a single-payer health care system provides the only path to justice.
“The upcoming vote on my single-payer health care bill will be an historic moment in the halls of Congress,” Bernie declared recently on a national radio talk show. “While I know it will fail, it is essential to bring it forward, have the debate, and record the vote so that we can continue to build the movement and move toward single-payer as our ultimate goal.”
Well, Bernie had his moment yesterday. And, as we all know now, he quit on us.
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