We Must Create the Political Climate We Dream About
By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News
23 May 17
helped organize a rally for single payer health care this past weekend in Des Moines. Many people are saying that single payer will never happen in this country. In the spring of 2015, I started following Bernie Sanders around Iowa. At first, I thought there was no way a self-described Democratic Socialist could become a real contender for president.
During those early events, before he decided to throw his hat in the ring officially, Bernie would close by asking the crowd if they had believed 30 years ago that a black man would be elected president and if they had thought 20 years ago that gay marriage would be legal in red states. Of course, the answer was no to those questions. Bernie reminded us that people didn’t give up, they organized.
That is the energy we need to make single payer health care a reality. Pete D’Alessandro, who was Bernie’s state director in Iowa and is contemplating a run for Congress, reminded me of Bernie’s message when he told the crowd on Saturday that he believed that a decade from now people may look back at the movement for single payer and see it as a turning point for the Democrats. Pete hopes that it will be the start of Democrats not polling or trying to triangulate to win elections and instead organizing for the future. Pete reminded us that the key to winning elections again is creating the political climate we desire, not adapting to what we perceive people want.
Bernie and Pete are right. We can achieve things that conventional wisdom may rule out today, if we organize. Let us look at we have accomplished in the last 250 years. Voting rights and equal rights for women and minorities didn’t happen overnight. It took a struggle, and in the beginning most people probably thought white male landowners would always be the only ones allowed to vote.
There was a time in this country where a free public education was probably thought of as a pipe dream, but today it is mandatory for all children to go to school and public education is free.
There are many other examples that we can use to motivate us to organize for what we believe in. I believe our job is to create the climate to achieve our vision. Bernie Sanders didn’t hire a pollster to develop a platform that people would vote for. For over 30 years he has organized for the same agenda that finally resonated with voters in 2015.
Resistance is going to be easy over the next few years. Donald Trump will see to that. Resisting Trump is not enough, though. Resisting Trump may shuffle the deck in four years, but it won’t change Congress or stop the shift to the right in this country.
We must present the people with a vision that they can believe in. Nuanced platforms that are modeled after polling data will not stop the Republican Party from continuing to ensure the standing of the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.
Single payer health care, free tuition at public colleges and universities, a living wage, etc. may seem like unachievable goals, but if we fight for them, we can make them a reality.
Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador’s slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush’s first stolen election. Scott moved to Des Moines in 2015 to cover the Iowa Caucus.
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