Obama to Ben Nelson: "I Will Bury You"


Since last year’s Democratic primaries, the most obvious weakness in Obama’s liberalism has been its reliance on consensus and good-faith dialogue with political adversaries. Indeed, it is a liberalism that knows no enemies and sees only potential allies.

Unfortunately, the basic progressive platform (health care for all, strong unions, access to quality housing, education and public transportation, etc.) faces stiff opposition from irreconcilable interests that benefit greatly from the status quo. It is neither an accident nor an administrative oversight that millions of Americans have no health insurance, a just and equitable universal health insurance system would spell the end of the health insurance industry, and so the industry and its allies in Congress quite rationally oppose any such reforms.

Once upon a time, before government-run fire departments, private fire brigades would put out fires in those buildings covered by fire insurance companies. This policy of selective, for-profit firefighting was inefficient, inegalitarian and unsafe for dense urban communities, nevertheless it was profitable for the fire companies of the 19th century, whose owners were probably quite happy with the system as it was.

The analogies to health care are obvious; the for-profit health insurance model is inefficient, prohibitively costly for those most at risk, and epidemiologically unsafe for the public at large. Some people make big money in this unhappy arrangement. Those people, the major insurance companies and their lobbies, are not potential allies because their interests are antithetical to meaningful reform. They cannot be “brought to the table” because any real solution to the health care problem would necessarily involve their demise, like the for-profit private fire companies of yesteryear.

Sadly, the Obama administration seems determined to pretend that these intractable antagonisms do not exist. This willful naivete is having a disastrous effect on contours the health care debate. The idea that the insurance industry will retain some important role in a future regime is giving political cover to right-wing Democrats like Ben Nelson of Nebraska as they undermine the more progressive proposals floating around Washington.

Nelson correctly observes that if for-profit insurance companies were forced to compete with a low-cost public plan, they would ultimately lose “the game” and disappear, effectively resulting in a single-payer system. This is exactly what progressive advocates of the Edwards ’08-style health care plan hope will happen. But since Beltway liberals have refused to commit themselves to the single-payer concept (preferring the sneaky, backdoor approach to a single payer endgame while pretending the insurance companies are our friends) they have exposed themselves to corporate hacks like Ben Nelson, who are now calling them out on their dishonest approach.

What Obama should do is abandon the big tent strategy, name his enemies and rally his supporters. In my haziest opium dreams, I imagine him saying this:

My friend Ben Nelson is absolutely right. My goal is the total dismemberment of the private insurance model and I make no bones about it.

The current regime is morally untenable and economically disastrous, with employer-based coverage becoming an increasingly heavy burden for our struggling manufacturing sector.

Private insurance companies perform no function or service that cannot be provided more efficiently and inexpensively by a non-profit, single-payer system.

It is time for members of Congress to choose between the interests of their constituents and the interests of the powerful corporations that oppose reform. I’m on the war path for single payer and I will be victorious.

May God have mercy on my enemies.

(Or something along those lines.)

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Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump

February 17, 2017 · $20.00 USD

Location: MayDay Space
Where: 176 St Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
When: Friday, February 17th at 6 PM to Sunday, February 19th to 4 PM

Political Context

This Presidents’ Day weekend, the Young Democratic Socialists will gather for our annual winter conference in New York City titled Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump. We did not choose the name lightly. In doing so, we call for leftists to collectively confront Trump and Trumpism at every possible opportunity. When a Trump administration attempts mass deportations of undocumented workers, when it attempts to register Muslims or roll back worker protections, when it attempts to take away reproductive, LGTBQ, civil, or any other rights, then we must militantly resist to prevent such measures.

To succeed, this must be explicitly socialist resistance. With liberalism having repeatedly shown itself incapable of combating the far right, it is now the time for socialists to openly declare our place in building the mass, multi-racial, and working class movement necessary for defeating the Trump administration. In this struggle, millennials will play an outsized role. That is why this conference comes at such a critical time—together we must create spaces for democratic and strategic discussion, spaces to gain organizing skills, and most importantly, spaces to form networks of young radicals for the future struggles ahead. These spaces will only come together if socialists come together. Join us this Presidents Weekend and help ignite the movement to defeat the Trump administration, continue the political revolution, and build the socialist alternative.

Key Deadlines

  • January 8th: Travel Scholarship for Air Travel (for application see below)
  • January 15th: Travel Scholarship for Non-Air Travel (ex: bus, car, train, etc.)
  • February 3rd: Early Bird Registration Ends - Tickets prices go up from $5 to $10
  • February 10th: Free Housing - We have limited free housing. You need to first register, then you will be sent an application for free housing.

Apply for a travel scholarship here! (First Deadline January 8, 2017)

Check out the working program (subject to change)