“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
From President John F. Kennedy’s Address at Rice University, Sept. 12, 1962
I am not the only one who recently thought of that famous quote from President Kennedy. It’s been resonating via Twitter and Facebook among progressives who discuss Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ proposal to bring the United States into line with the rest of the educated and industrialized world with a single payer Medicare-For-All health care delivery system.
It’s no secret that we are strong supporters of single payer health care, and we are grateful that during the run-up to and during the Democratic debate in South Carolina that the topic has received renewed attention. Results from a Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 81 percent of Democrats favor it as well as 58 percent of all Americans. It’s what the people want – not what the for-profit health insurance corporations want.
If you still are confused by what a single payer health care system is, we highly recommend you check out Physicians For National Health Program’s (PNHP) web site. Or proceed with caution on the Google machine. In a nutshell, single payer would implement a health care (not health insurance) delivery system in which all residents of the U.S. would be covered for all medically necessary services, including doctor, hospital, preventive, long-term care, mental health, reproductive health care, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs.
So why the reference to President Kennedy and the space program?
No one said this was going to be easy. Not Bernie Sanders; not any one of his supporters said “a magic wand” would be waived and single payer health care would magically be here. But I ask, to quote the great Professor Harvey J. Kaye, have we forgotten who we are as Americans? When did we give up on a fight for what was the better alternative? When did we learn to say, “Oh, that’s too hard.”
Bernie Sanders has been consistent about many things – especially his repeated message that no one person can change Washington, DC. He is asking for a political movement (revolution); a wave election; the beginning of the end of corporate control over our government. If we can’t vision a future that requires us to be a part of our government again – to push for those who advocate for We The People, well then folks, we may as well close up the shop. It took 40 years to get us into this mess. We aren’t going to get out of it without a fight.
Is single payer possible? Youbetcha. Will it happen overnight? I ask you to stop a minute and think of the destruction ALEC-backed governor Scott Walker managed to accomplish with a “wave of a wand” when he had a Republican House and Senate. We have to fight to give someone advocating for single payer the tools necessary to implement it – a wave election or working over 2-4 years to elect the supporting cast that will provide us with single payer. We need someone who will fight for us – and who will encourage the fight within us, to quote Professor Kaye again.
Yes, the issue of single payer is the right thing to do – health care as a human right. No, it’s not going to be easy and no it may not happen in the first 100 days of a President Sanders term. But does that mean we don’t try? Does that mean we say, Oh, that’s too hard.”
Or to quote from M. Scott Peck, M.D., from his brilliant book, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth….in his opening chapter. Sentence One, Paragraph One.
Life is difficult. This is a great truth…It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult…then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters….Life is a series of problems. Do we want to moan about them or solve them? Do we want to teach our children to solve them?”
We urge you to find out more about single payer if it is a new concept to you. We also urge you to remember our proud progressive history – one marked by those who looked at the challenges ahead and said, “Let’s do this.” Was it easy for them? No, but they were dedicated and determined to see change for the better. It’s now our turn.
Settle for the status quo when we are drowning? Not me thank you. #SinglePayerInMyLifeTime. That’s what I’m working toward.
Below is President Kennedy’s famous line within the context of the entire speech:
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”