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How the Left May Have Destroyed Medicare
November , 2016
by William P. Meyers

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Paul Ryan can destroy Medicare, if Trump allows it

"Promises, promises, I'm all through, with promises, promises, now."
— Promises, Promises by Hal David and Burt Bacharach
YouTube Dionne Warwick singing "Promises, Promises"

Medicare, the federal medical program for seniors, that most of us pay into all out lives, is probably going to be destroyed in the coming year. The people destroying it, the doctors and medical corporations and insurance companies and billionaires and the leaders of the Republican Party, won't use the word "destroy." They will use the word reform.

Paul Ryan, Donald Trump and crew have stated their aim: step one is to replace the current Medicare system with a voucher system for private insurance. Then if the cost of medical care goes up, seniors can try to pay the difference, or go without care. After that is in place they will make payments into Medicare voluntary. Of course many stupid, short sited people (leftists as well as Democrats and Republicans) will refuse to pay in, and the system will collapse. We will be back to 1964, the year before Medicare was passed into law. Seniors will just have to buy street heroin to keep them calm until they die. Except, of course, the rich.

The few remaining Democrats in Congress will try to stop this, and they might. In this essay I will take apart the American Left, so that it is clear how they helped us get into this predicament, and maybe a path forward.

Rallying behind Hillary: Too Little, Too Late, and Too Hypocritical

The American People are in this predicament because Hillary Clinton lost the presidency to Donald Trump. Democratic Party turnout was poor, and other candidates were not very inspiring, so the Republican Party held its grip on the House and Senate. Since the Republicans prevented President Obama from appointing a Supreme Court judge, Trump will appoint one, thereby assuring that any law destroying Medicare will be declared constitutional.

There are a lot of reasons Hillary lost the race, the main one being the 40-year long right-wing campaign to smear her in the public eye. The secondary one was that Donald Trump ran a very strong campaign, especially given that he was an amateur. The third is that Hillary is not a very good liar. The checklist goes on until we arrive at the leftmost segment of the Democratic Party, led by Bernie Sanders. Then to the left of that there was the Green Party, a couple of small socialist parties that ran presidential candidates, and a host of tiny but self-important lefty organizations, factions, and individuals.

Bernie Sanders was a 60's leftist, probably sincere at that time, who found, in 1981, that he could not only rally leftists behind his election campaigns, but could also gain the support of real-estate developers and rural voters by carefully crafting his speeches to particular audiences. He thinks of himself as to the left of Hillary, but his record in the House and Senate put him, like Hillary, a bit to the right of the most progressive members.

Promises, promises. Bernie simply out-promised Hillary, and it almost worked. That's politics, no big deal. But in trying to win, Bernie smeared Hillary, over and over again. And some of his followers were even more vicious, using social media to circulate untrue accusations, some that had been started by the ultra-right.

The Green Party (leadership, anyway) criticized Bernie, saying that he was just trying to rope lefty voters into supporting the Democrats. And so on, each small leftist group reasoning all groups to the right must be destroyed so that the follower of the One True Leftist Leader can enjoy a day in the sun. And then they all tore apart Hillary as best they could.

So we will have Trump and Ryan and the crazies to the right of them running the country for at least four years. Suddenly, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is calling for a recount, so that Hillary can be President. [A recount is a good idea, but I doubt it will change anything] Starting the day after the election, the left, including many students, started holding protest marches against Trump. Even just being fair before the election probably would have resulted in a Hillary victory. Putting the energy into supporting Hillary that they used to attack Trump, after it was too late, would have likely put Hillary in the White House.

Ms. Stein did not take many votes at all, but I believe she caused many people to stay away from the polls. Her vicious, lying attacks on Hillary during the campaign, meant to thrust the Green Party into national prominence, are what should be remembered. Not her call for a recount.

Goodbye, Medicare

Let me be clear: it is the Republican right that is going to try to destroy Medicare. The main hope for keeping it intact is that some moderate Republicans in the House or Senate, maybe just fearing a backlash from senior voters, will join with Democrats to stop this plot.

There should be no doubt that Medicare is a socialist program. It taxes workers and their employers to pay for essentially universal coverage of medical care for seniors. It is a budget medical insurance system, not a gold-plated one. Many doctors don't like it because they can't overcharge people for their services.

Socialists should support Medicare. Hillary supports Medicare. True, Hillary was not an all-out socialist, but she is the one who could have been President. Had it not been for the socialist backstabbing.

A Path Forward

Reality has an indeterminate future. Karl Marx said he could predict that socialism would triumph over capitalism. As late as the 1970s, when the capitalists lost Vietnam, it looked like he might have been right. But he was wrong about the ultimate triumph of the proletariat. He was right about a number of things, he saw clearly how capitalism worked before anyone else did, but he was no prophet.

America is a wealthy imperialist country. Leftism peaked here during the Great Depression. It has been declining ever since.

I believe the American people would benefit from more, well-run, social programs, in addition to keeping public schools, the Post Office, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and the like. I believe we should abandon imperialism and divert most military spending to domestic programs or tax relief.

I like the idea of third parties. I don't think it is impossible to build up a third party in the U.S. that is to the left of the democrats. But I do think it is highly unlikely, given the constitutional structure of the U.S. with its winner-takes-all elections. In proportional representation systems a third party might grow, but that would apply to right-wing third parties (the Nazis came to power non-violently through proportional representation, partly assisted by the German ultra-left attacking the centrist parties). But the main obstacle I have seen to third parties in the U.S. has been the flawed personalities of the people who try to build them.

The best bet for us, right now, is reinforcing the left wing of the Democratic Party. I hate to say that. It is the opposite of what I have said since about 1975. I know as well as anyone the history of the Democratic Party.

But the left could form an organized, dynamic caucus within the party. We should run candidates in primaries. But not the way Bernie ran. We should not smear our opponents, because the not-as-leftist Democratic candidate might be the person who preserves us from a right-wing victory. Above all, we should be willing to make reasonable deals to win, rather than insisting on getting everything and getting nothing.

We need a new cultural revolution. And that would center around: telling the truth. Reject falsehoods. In particular, in politics, reject lying to appeal to constituencies, hoping to raise funds or get a few extra votes.

Don't tell people they lost their jobs to a trade deal when in fact the jobs were destroyed by automation. Don't tell students you are going to make college free on a national basis when you haven't even done that in your own state yet, just to get an army of student volunteers. Don't tell people a politician is a capitalist tool just because some of their positions are more moderate than yours.

Don't make promises you can't keep. That may result in short-term gains, but in the long run it alienates people. Work towards the long-run. It will get here sooner than you think.

Once America was a nation of farm workers. Once we were a nation of factory workers. Now we are a nation of service workers ruled by an aristocracy of inherited wealth. That is the reality. Work with it.

The Green Party, though a failure as a whole, had a special role in American politics. It forced the Democrats to become an environmentalist party. It is hard now to find a Democrat, even an elected Democrat, who is not an environmentalist.

As to those who choose to continue to try to build third parties, I wish you well. You could be right, and I could be wrong.


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