Thomas Paine could have been writing about why the "resistance" to Donald Trump is so ineffectual when what's really needed is a global revolution against the whole rotten global financial system. No matter that Paine was talking about Louis XVI of France, who actually was more a weakling than a despot in the mold of his Trump-like ancestor, Louis XIV.
In this interim between the 4th of July and Bastille Day, with Hamburg burning as the G-20 oligarchs party and plunder, what better time to renew our acquaintance with that great global radical, Thomas Paine? He helped foment revolution in the American colonies, and in France and (unsuccessfully) in his native England, where he was thoroughly despised by the aristocracy. His particular nemesis was the anti-revolutionary conservative Edmund Burke. Were he alive today, I can almost guarantee that Burke would be writing scolding opinion pieces for the New York Times. It's probably no accident that the newspaper's star conservative columnist is diehard Burke fan David Brooks.
Since Trump and his fellow plunderer-parasites both here and abroad are indeed too abominably filthy to be cleansed, nothing short of a complete revolution will do, as evidenced by the brave people facing water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets and other military police hardware in Germany.
Take the health care crisis here at home. Despite the overwhelming clamor for universal, government-run medical insurance from the vast majority of the American populace, response from the higher-ups has ranged from horrified, to dismissive, to tepid.
Bernie Sanders's prescription was just suddenly downgraded to the same piecemeal "reform" of our for-profit, market based insurance system as originally suggested by the Obama White House. So compared to what Thomas Paine demanded in The Rights of Man, it's quite the cynical travesty.
Bernie: "Everyone knows that the Affordable Care Act is far from perfect. Our job now is to improve it, not destroy it. Further, instead of throwing 22 million Americans off of health care, we must move to join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee healthcare to all people as a right not a privilege through a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system."
Tom: "When it becomes necessary to do a thing, the whole heart and soul should go into the measure, or not attempt it."
Just as Barack Obama did before him, Sanders - now the most popular politician in America - is wasting the moment and submitting to the vested interests before he even gets started. He's putting off introduction of his long-promised Medicare for All legislation and instead meekly suggesting a Medicare buy-in option for 55-and-overs, as well as a public "option" so as not to unduly discompose the predatory plunderers of the private insurance cartel.
What about the times that try the souls of the tens of millions of citizens who either totally lack health insurance coverage, or can't afford the premiums and deductibles of what covers only a portion of their medical costs? They'll still have to die or go bankrupt if they get sick under the existing Obamacare law, which Democrats see as the be-all and end-all of the current debate.
As health care advocates Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese point out,
We are already spending enough on health care in the US to provide comprehensive health care to everyone. We have a bill that lays out the framework for a National Improved Medicare for All healthcare system: HR 676. A majority of Democrats in the House have signed on to it as co-sponsors.
So, why are they trying to convince us to accept a public option or a Medicare buy-in? It’s because they are corrupted by money – campaign contributions that they receive from the corporations that profit from the current system. You may say, well Bernie doesn’t take corporate money, so why would he go along with this charade? It may be because he has greater allegiance to the Democratic Party than he has to the supporters of Medicare for All, his base. He may fear losing positions on committees or his new position of leadership within the party.
We have to be clear and uncompromising in our demand for National Improved Medicare for All NOW! We can’t put this fight off any longer because those in power will always try to knock us off course. The people and their families who are suffering under the current healthcare (non)system can’t wait any longer.If Bernie Sanders really believes that health care is a human right, then why does he accept that millions of people are being denied this right today, right this very minute? Until such time as he deems it safe to "compromise" with the predatory plunderers who'd just as soon see us all dead, people will continue suffering and dying prematurely. The gradual granting of health care rights which he espouses is as if Lyndon Johnson's civil rights legislation had "pragmatically" given relief to only half the country's black people or if his Great Society had "realistically" given Medicare and Medicaid insurance to half the country's elderly and poor people.
Either health care is a right, or it isn't. Whatever happened to justice delayed is justice denied?
As Thomas Paine retorted to Edmond Burke's treatise against the French Revolution: "Does Mr. Burke mean to deny that man has any rights? If he does, then he must mean that there is no such thing as rights anywhere, and that he had none himself; for who is there in the world but man?"
The mass psychic revolution for universal health care in the United States is already a done deal. Bernie Sanders can either accept this fait accompli, or he might as well join the Democratic Party's latest bumper sticker campaign of "We Suck Less."
As it stands now, Bernie is nothing if not an adherent of what Paine called the "caterpillar principle." Since all courts and courtiers are alike, they all consume similar policies and narratives which have little or nothing to do with people and nations. "While they agree to quarrel, they agree to plunder. Nothing can be more terrible to a Court or a Courtier than the Revolution.They tremble at the approach of principles, and dread the precedent that threatens their overthrow."
Far from voicing any solidarity with the anti-capitalist demonstrators in Hamburg, Bernie Sanders acted every inchworm the caterpillar courier in tweeting to Trump and his fellow oligarchs what their three top priorities should be at the G-20 summit:
1) Growing global economic inequality. The G20 has a major role to play in making sure the benefits of growth benefit all humanity.(This is boilerplate neoliberal tripe. Talk about, but don't question whether this "growth" is healthy or cancerous. All of humanity sounds so much vaguer and grander than, say, mentioning the refugees and victims of endless wars of American and transnational corporate aggression.)
2) North Korea. Trump should use the G20 to develop a consensus. Real leadership is bringing parties together to de-escalate tensions.
(Bernie fails to mention the forbidden word: peace. In his prescription pad, real leaders need not actually stop arms production and sales and reduce military spending to help pay for health care, but rather tamp down the "tensions" a wee tad in order to keep the defense contractors in business without obliterating the entire planet in the process. He needs those F-35s to stay in Vermont. Perhaps he didn't feel the need to chide Trump on climate change amelioration given that the president is already a world pariah in that regard.)3) Russia’s meddling in our election. When Trump meets with Putin he must make clear interference is unacceptable & must never happen again.(He not only swallows the Democratic Party's specious RussiaGate claims whole, he eagerly disseminates the propaganda to his followers. He is part of the lie.)
Since Single Payer covers everybody, the countries which now implement such systems have lower overall costs because most of the people covered are relatively healthy. Contrast that with the United States, where the government restricts public coverage to the most vulnerable and sickest groups: the elderly, the disabled, and veterans of our endless wars. We pay more and we get less. The have-nots are taught to resent the haves, entrenching the oligarchic plunderers even more securely in power. So if everybody enjoyed the same privileges, they'd have no reason to either resent one another or settle for lesser evil candidates.By analogy, suppose that your state’s government took over road maintenance from the county governments within it, in the process reducing total maintenance costs by 30 percent. Your state taxes would obviously have to go up under this arrangement.But if roads would be as well maintained as before, would that be a reason to oppose the move? Clearly not, since the resulting cost savings would reduce your county taxes by more than your state taxes went up. Likewise, it makes no sense to oppose single-payer on the grounds that it would require additional tax revenue. In each case, the resulting gains in efficiency would leave you with greater effective purchasing power than before.
And if everybody enjoyed the same benefits, it would become next to impossible for reactionary politicians, acting at the behest of corporations and oligarchs, to yank these benefits away from the whole population, united in solidarity to the tune of more than 320 million human bodies.
So let's all be realistic, and demand the impossible. Universal health care is not only a human right, it's plain common sense. Don't let the oligarchs get you down and keep you down. Vive le revolution!