Bernie’s the Man: His Town Hall Meeting on Single Payer Healthcare


Tonight, Bernie Sanders held our nation’s first-ever D.C. town meeting on single payer health care. But he didn’t do it on national television or on cable. Instead, the meeting had to be held online. It was sponsored jointly by the news outlets, The Young Turks (TYT), Now This, and Attention.

Such sponsorship was necessary because the mainstream media (MSM) largely sponsored by Big Pharma, have no interest in an issue so vital to the American people. Network and cable are more focused on Russia-Gate and President Trump’s incoherent tweets. Predictably then, the MSM will continue to repeat Big Pharma’s tone-deaf talking points about single payer health care (see below).

All of this means that Bernie Sanders is yet again ahead of his competitors on the communications curve just as he was in 2016 on the campaign-funding curve. Then he established himself as the most popular politician in America despite spurning contributions from large corporate donors. Similarly, although holding his healthcare meeting online, the ever-creative Mr. Sanders maximized tonight’s audience. According to TYT’s Cenk Uygur, in order for Bernie to capture an audience of size comparable to the one he reached tonight, he would have to appear on CNN more than a hundred times.

In any case, the meeting was a model of efficient organization, relevance, and clarity. It featured three panels of three persons each, and had them discussing our nation’s healthcare crisis, the cost of single payer programs, and the success of such programs in Canada, Norway, and France. The message was quite simple:

  • 36,000 Americans needlessly die each year, because they have no healthcare. (Imagine the response if that many were killed by terrorists each year.)
  • Healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
  • But even if that right isn’t recognized as such, our present system is undeniably over-priced, wasteful, inefficient, and insane.
  • It actually has uninformed bureaucrats dictating instructions to highly-trained healthcare providers
  • Who waste untold hours arguing with insurance companies and filling out forms.
  • Inexplicably, it excludes dental and optometrist expenses as though they were luxuries.
  • Moreover, our system rewards callous employers who refuse to provide healthcare for their workers by giving them an edge over competitors with conscience who do.
  • The system even has taxpayers subsidizing the wealthiest family in America, the Waltons, by providing Medicaid to their underpaid workers.
  • Single payer systems everywhere in the industrial world provide better care at half our cost.
  • Everywhere they are so wildly popular that it would be politically suicidal for any politician to suggest their replacement with the U.S. system.
  • Single payer is popular because it requires no premiums, co-pays, deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Compared to such savings, any tax increase to fund the system here would be miniscule.
  • A single payer system even exists in our own country; it is called Medicare.
  • After Social Security, Medicare is the most popular government program in the nation’s history.
  • Yet, our elected representatives refuse even to acknowledge single payer’s success anywhere,
  • Because they are paid off by insurance and pharmaceutical companies to do so.
  • Medicare can be easily universalized by simply lowering the age for eligibility from 65 to the day of a child’s birth.
  • Despite the disinformation of opponents, doing so would not cost more. It would cost far less! Remember, we already pay twice as much for inferior healthcare as those countries with single payer.

In a TYT follow-up to Bernie’s program, one right wing viewer ignored its entire content. Instead, he tweeted those typical Big Pharma talking points I mentioned above. The tweeter summarized the town hall meeting in three points: (1) everything is free; (2) the rich will pay for it, (3) I don’t know how much it costs.

As the TYT commentator observed: “There’s at least one thing Single Payer can’t do. It can’t cure stupid.”

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Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 45 years. Three grown children. Six grandchildren.

7 thoughts on “Bernie’s the Man: His Town Hall Meeting on Single Payer Healthcare”

  1. Excellent article! And I love Bernie.

    The question remains: Will we ever get single payer from the current centrist Democratic Party? I have my doubts.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. once said his biggest problem wasn’t the Klan. It was the moderates who kept insisting on incremental change.

    The structure of the Affordable Care Act came from the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank. The law was written by corporate lawyers whose primary goal was to maximize profit for private health insurers. Now even that has, in my opinion, been given a death blow. It won’t work without an individual mandate.

    Isaiah and Jeremiah would be out in the streets protesting.


    1. Bernie is that incremental guy. His “socialism” is fake. He is a capitalist and a warmonger (of course he talks peace, like all warmongers). When all is said and done Bernie is that lukewarm person who Jesus warned us to spit out. Sanders is just another cog in the great machine that is destroying the world. Half measures will avail us nothing. What good will single payer do a body that may be vaporized by one of the nuclear submarines Bernie also votes for?


      1. Bernie is not a capitalist. You are just wrong about that. His foreign policy (to extent that he even has one) leaves a lot to be desired, but who in Congress (besides Tulsi Gabbard) is better? Bernie voted against the Iraq War. He recently voted against economic sanctions on Russia. He declined to kiss up to the warmongers at AIPAC. It was a long time ago, but in the 1980s he was an outspoken critic of U.S. interventions in Latin America. Yes, Bernie votes for too many military appropriations, especially if they bring home the bacon to Vermont. An yes he is not a strong voice in opposition to neocon nonsense.

        I’d give Bernie a C on foreign policy and an A on domestic policy, I’d give Hillary Clinton an F on foreign policy an a D+ on domestic policy.


  2. Perhaps I was a little harsh on Bernie to make a point. I don’t really disagree with anything you have said in his favor…………..BUT in my opinion the US government of which he is a part is profoundly corrupt, and neither he nor any person, even as President, can fix the depth of corruption which has also spread widely into the soul of the American people and the evil empire they nonchalantly inhabit. And let’s face it, you and I and every American is a capitalist, as long as there
    is money in our pockets and a car in our possession. However much we might love the ideal of socialism, it doesn’t really work individually – it needs a village, and a pretty good sized one, and such does not yet exist. Voting in this fixed game is no more than certifying your enslavement to a system that uses that meaningless act to deceive you. And Sanders is part of that corrupt Washington System, however much his believers might wish he is not. If he were to become President, then his benighted followers would gradually awaken to realize that he is acting in lock step with the dictates of the Deep State Oligarchs who control the whole bought and paid for machinery of our “democracy.” That is to say, he would do the same turncoat number our pal Obama did on his naïve followers – and like a good con man, Obama even left a lot of them still worshipping him, in spite of his having screwed them every way but loose……..

    So, I guess I still do beg to differ.


    1. We agree on Obama. We agree about Deep State/oligarchy issues. I would even agree with the expression “evil empire.” As to socialism, I would like to point out that we – even now – have many aspects of socialism in the U.S.: Medicare, Tricare, Medicaid, CHIP, even public schools. I can live with a blend of socialism and capitalism, but not with the unregulated capitalism both parties seem to be moving towards – Republicans openly, Democrats more subtly. If we are to be involved in politics at all, we have to start somewhere. Either to reform the Democrats or start a third party we would need a charismatic leader and it’ makes sense to look through existing politicians now in government. Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard do seem to stand out from the crowd. Gabbard is actually better than Bernie on foreign policy.

      I do believe in voting, even though the system seems rigged and our choices limited, but – as Noam Chomsky has said – that only takes ten minutes every couple of years and it’s more important what you do with the rest of your time.


      1. Thanks for your reply. In my opinion, those who still believe in our US government, are uninformed and constitute one of the greatest obstacles to a real revolution founded on a deep change of consciousness, such as Jesus taught. I guess Jesus would have been a regular attendee at the Temple, if he thought he could learn anything there. I think he discovered that there was more to be learned in the desert than in the city among the politicians and Pharisees. The US gov is the problem, and will never be the solution – it is far too corrupt to be reformed now. We will be very lucky if humankind survives this rotten institution for a few more years. It is informative to tote up the number of “benefits” such as death and poverty this gov of ours has bestowed on the world. Reforming serial killers is not an easy job, given that they have no intention whatever to change their ways, and will be only too glad to murder you if you interfere with them.

        Liked by 1 person

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