In the wake of the congressional mass shooting, there was an effort to conflate the violent incitement of someone like a Donald Trump with the statement of facts that no one denies — but which Republicans and “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd would like Democrats to stop talking about.
Thankfully, that effort appears to have failed, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) demonstrated when he defended a tweet in which he said that “thousands of people will die if the Republican health care bill becomes law.”
In an interview on “Meet the Press,” Todd asked Sanders if he had any “regrets” about his word choice, and Sanders's replay was pretty emphatic:
TODD: “I want to first address that rhetoric. You tweeted that issue of saying that, yes, you thought people would die. And then Sen. Orrin Hatch retweeted, he said — here, 'Let us be clear. This is not trying to be overly dramatic. Thousands of people will die if the Republican health care bill becomes law.' Orrin Hatch retweeted you and said, 'This brief time when we were not accusing those we disagree with of murder was nice while it lasted.' Any regrets at using the rhetoric you used?”
SANDERS: “No. Chuck...”
TODD: “Considering what Senator Hatch said?”
SANDERS: "Chuck, what the Republican proposal does is throw 23 million Americans off of health insurance. What Harvard University — what a part of Harvard University, the scientists there — determine is when you throw 23 million people off of health insurance, people with cancer, people with heart disease, people with diabetes, thousands of people will die.
I wish I didn't have to say it. This is not me. This is study after study making this point. It is common sense. If you have cancer and your insurance is taken away from you, there is a likelihood you will die and certainly a likelihood that you will become much sicker than you are today. That's the facts. Unpleasant, but it's true."
What Republicans are trying to do is shameful and immoral, but they're at least getting a few bucks out of the deal. What's Todd's excuse? There has been study after study showing that tens of thousands of Americans die due to a lack of health care, yet Todd never addresses the truth of Sanders's statement.
If it's true — and it is — what kind of monster would remain silent about that?
As a matter of fact, don't we still have 28 million uninsured people despite Obamacare? While we're fighting a rear-guard action against this atrocity, we are also ignoring the fact that we need to go much further.
Despite my significant disagreements with Bernie Sanders, he is right about one thing: Democrats need to do more than just oppose Trumpcare and more than just proposing “fixes” to Obamacare that will help around the margins.
I don't agree that single payer is politically feasible anytime soon, but Democrats do need to offer a plan that fundamentally improves on Obamacare, not just opposes Trumpcare. All that does is give Republicans the political room to grind down their bill into something slightly less awful.
Democrats didn't lose the last three midterms because of Nancy Pelosi; they lost because they passed Obamacare and then ran away from it. It's time for them to start running in the right direction.
This is a commentary piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.