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If Barry Goldwater Had Won In 1964, We Wouldn’t Have Had Any of These Problems


Zaid Jilani’s commentary on domestic politics overwhelmingly consists of two things: 1)a consuming hatred of the Democratic Party and 2)a genuinely pathetic belief that, against all evidence, real left-wing transformation will come from the white nationalist death cult that currently controls Congress and the White House and is still desperately trying to strip health insurance from 20-32 million people to pay for an upper-class tax cut.  I can’t say that the latest iteration is self-parody — the argument is self-paradoic by definition — but something about him laundering his bullshit through a 91-year-old leaves an additionally sour taste:

Shortly after Trump won the nomination to be the Republican Party’s presidential contender, Fine wrote to his campaign to offer him a plan to expand Medicare. “Start with Medicare for children and all military vets (half are already under Medicare because they are over 65), then 60-65, etc. etc,” Fine said he advised. “An important conservative result: the VA hospital system would became available to all, for services and for badly-need additional training hospitals for young doctors.”

After the death of the Senate healthcare bill yesterday, The Intercept reached out to Fine for comment about where Congress should go next. “Single payer is the only real answer and some day I believe the Republicans will leap ahead of the Democrats and lead in its enactment,” he speculated, “just as did Bismarck in Germany and David Lloyd George and Churchill in the UK.”

Otto Von Bismarck, a conservative German leader known as one of the fathers of the welfare state — the Social Security Administration even maintains a webpage honoring him for establishing the first public retirement program in the world — helped establish the foundations of the modern German health insurance system in 1883.

David Lloyd George was a member of the British Liberal Party (the successors to the Whigs, not to be confused with the Labour Party) who was inspired by Von Bismarck’s work in Germany. He spearheaded the passage of the National Insurance Act of 1911, which created a system of health insurance to cover industrial workers.

And although Winston Churchill was not the driving force behind the establishment of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, he both supported it in theory and later prevented his fellow Tories from strangling it during his 1951 to 1955 tenure as prime minister.

All three are examples of conservative politicians coming to terms with popular demands for the government to act to prevent their citizens from being financially destroyed by sickness and injury. It remains to be seen whether the GOP will learn the same lesson.

Oh, I think we’ve seen quite enough.

So, sure, the American welfare state is almost entirely the product of Democratic Congresses, including the most recent Democratic House, which enacted a historic expansion of Medicaid (a law which nonetheless sucks because it was enacted by the Democrat Party.)* Still, despite the fact that the Republican conference consists almost entirely of right-wing fanatics, they might totally enact single-payer.  And the relevant supporting evidence consists of two European politicians, steeped in completely different traditions of conservatism than the American one, who supported programs the most recent of which passed in 1911. And to make the case a little deeper, Jilani looks for a way to give Winston Churchill the credit for a policy passed by Labour. If President Gillibrand signs a bill creating a Medicare buy-in in 2021, I look forward to Jilani’s piece giving Paul Ryan the credit for it.

I also look forward to his next piece, “one day, the Supreme Court will rule the death penalty categorically  unconstitutional, and I believe Neil Gorsuch and Sam Alito will leap ahead of Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to provide the decisive votes.”

*You also have to love the follow-up tweet:

I concede the point — if reactionary ideologues weren’t reactionary ideologues, they would be more likely to pass left-wing policies they’ve dedicated their careers to opposing. Hard to see any holes in that logic!

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