Since Sunday I’ve received a good bit of feedback along these lines:
Dear Mr. Warthen
I think your article is right on target and has a very good insight of the realities of the inefficient American health system.
However, it is my feeling that by mentioning that Kucinich is the only one talking about single payer, and in the same line that he is not viable and has seen a UFO you are delegitimazing him.
So he is not "viable" according to whom? You? The mainstream media? The Democrats?
If we really want to start a debate about the issues that are important, I think is time to stop supporting candidates in terms of electability, but in terms of what they stand for. Why not vote for our values?
If you think that this country needs a health care reform, why not throw your support to Kucinich, instead of observing how timid the other candidates are? After all he is the only one walking the talk.
It’s sad to see the state of democracy in this country.
You’ll note some puzzlement about how candidates get to be "viable," similar to that which I addressed to the Ron Paul folks back in this column.
Then, our regular Doug wrote this in the very first comment on my Sunday column:
Again, I’ll ask you to put your proverbial money where your mouth is.
If you think this is an important issue, don’t endorse candidates who
don’t support single payer.
Your man McCain doesn’t even come close to your thoughts on this issue
– and if I read you column correctly, it is because you think he’s
afraid to address it.
Well, Doug, you just said it — I think this is "an important issue." It’s not THE important issue. If there were anything that I would designate as THE important issue in a presidential race, it wouldn’t be a domestic one. And I’d rather not judge on the basis of any single issue in foreign affairs, if I can avoid it. (We found ourselves unable to avoid it in 2004, which means we made probably the most distasteful endorsement I can recall having made in a presidential race.)
Yes, health care is important. So are other things. If I were to vote on one issue only, I would have many different endorsements. Just off the top of my head, it would probably go like this. If the issue is:
- Health care, then it would be Dennis Kucinich in a walk.
- Iraq (as a military operation), then it would be John McCain, the only guy who stood up for the surge — which was based on the idea that he alone had been pushing for four years.
- Iraq (long-term strategy) — Joe Biden, who (along with erstwhile candidate Sam Brownback), has been pushing the federalist approach of three regions with a loose union holding them together.
- Immigration — Either McCain, who took all the heat on the recent failed reform effort, or Hillary Clinton, who refused to demagogue on the driver’s license flap.
- Afghanistan — Barack Obama, who had the nerve to say he’d go after the Taliban in Pakistan.
- Pakistan (long-term strategy) — Joe Biden, for articulating the fact that we needed a Pakistan strategy, not a Musharraf strategy.
- Administrative ability — Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney, the only governors.
- Most likely to be the UnParty nominee — Tough call, but I see three candidates most able to lead us out of the vicious partisanship of the past 15 years: Huckabee, who seems to have governed Arkansas pretty effectively with a Democratic majority in the legislature; Obama, who has made his desire to be the president of ALL Americans a centerpiece of his campaign; or McCain, who from confirming judges to campaign finance reform to immigration to fighting the use of torture, has demonstrated his willingness and ability to work with Dems time and again.
- Abortion — Either Huckabee or McCain. The Democrats walk in the door disqualifying themselves on this one (from my point of view), and none of the other leading Republicans can be trusted in this area.
- Most likely to be the Energy Party nominee — Nobody. McCain has done some good stuff in the Senate, and I like some of the things Biden has said about a president’s role in leading on this critical strategic issue, but I don’t think anybody goes far enough.
- Education — Ron Paul almost gets it by wanting to do away with the U.S. Dept. of Ed., but then he blows it by wanting to give tax credits to pay people to attend private schools, which is really none of the government’s business at any level. Basically, this issue is moot; the federal government has no business dealing with education at all.
Anyway, I think you get the idea. You may notice that I didn’t have any scenarios in which I endorsed John Edwards or Fred Thompson. I’m sure if I spent an hour or so perusing all their positions I’d find some reason to endorse each of them. I just did the things that came to mind first.