Dr. Margaret Flowers, a pediatrician from Maryland who volunteers for Physicians for a National Health Program, knows what it is like to challenge the corporate leviathan. She was blacklisted by the corporate media. She was locked out of the debate on health care reform by the Democratic Party and liberal organizations such as MoveOn. She was abandoned by those in Congress who had once backed calls for a rational health care policy. And when she and seven other activists demanded that the argument for universal health care be considered at the hearings held by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, they were forcibly removed from the hearing room.
“The reform process exposed how broken our system is,” Flowers said when we spoke a few days ago. “The health reform debate was never an actual debate. Those in power were very reluctant to have single-payer advocates testify or come to the table. They would not seriously consider our proposal because it was based on evidence of what works. And they did not want this evidence placed before the public. They needed the reform to be based on what they thought was politically feasible and acceptable to the industries that fund their campaigns.”
“There was nobody in the House or the Senate who held fast on universal health care,” she lamented. “Sen. [Bernie] Sanders from Vermont introduced a single-payer bill, S 703. He introduced an amendment that would have substituted S 703 for what the Senate was putting together. We had to push pretty hard to get that to the Senate floor, but in the end he was forced by the leadership to withdraw it. He was our strongest person. In the House we saw Chairman John Conyers, who is the lead sponsor for the House single-payer bill, give up pushing for single-payer very early in the process in 2009. Dennis Kucinich pushed to get an amendment that would help give states the ability to pass single-payer. He was not successful in getting that kept in the final House bill. He held out for the longest, but in the end he caved.”
“You can’t effect change from the inside,” she has concluded. “We have a huge imbalance of power. Until we have a shift in power we won’t get effective change in any area, whether financial, climate, you name it. With the wealth inequalities, with the road we are headed down, we face serious problems. Those who work and advocate for social and economic justice have to now join together. We have to be independent of political parties and the major funders. The revolution will not be funded. This is very true.”
“Those who are working for effective change are not going to get foundation dollars,” she stated. “Once a foundation or a wealthy individual agrees to give money they control how that money is used. You have to report to them how you spend that money. They control what you can and cannot do. Robert Wood Johnson [the foundation], for example, funds many public health departments. They fund groups that advocate for health care reform, but those groups are not allowed to pursue or talk about single-payer. Robert Wood Johnson only supports work that is done to create what they call public/private partnership. And we know this is totally ineffective. We tried this before. It is allowing private insurers to exist but developing programs to fill the gaps. Robert Wood Johnson actually works against a single-payer health care system. The Health Care for America Now coalition was another example. It only supported what the Democrats supported. There are a lot of activist groups controlled by the Democratic Party, including Families USA and MoveOn. MoveOn is a very good example. If you look at polls of Democrats on single-payer, about 80 percent support it. But at MoveOn meetings, which is made up mostly of Democrats, when people raised the idea of working for single-payer they were told by MoveOn leaders that the organization was not doing that. And this took place while the Democrats were busy selling out women’s rights, immigrant rights to health care and abandoning the public option. Yet all these groups continued to work for the bill. They argued, in the end, that the health care bill had to be supported because it was not really about health care. It was about the viability of President Obama and the Democratic Party. This is why, in the end, we had to pass it.”
“The Democrats and the Republicans give the illusion that there are differences between them,” said Dr. Flowers. “This keeps the public divided. It weakens opposition. We fight over whether a Democrat will get elected or a Republican will get elected. We vote for the lesser evil, but meanwhile the policies the two parties enact are not significantly different. There were no Democrats willing to hold the line on single-payer. Not one. I don’t see this changing until we radically shift the balance of power by creating a larger and broader social movement.”
If you still don't get how rigged the game is, there you go.
That is how it works. Alleged 'independent' groups like MoveOn work overtime to shut down debate while claiming to be an organization whose agenda is dictated by its membership.
If it's any comfort to you, it happens on all the levels. For example, I'm one of the big donors who doesn't donate to today's DNC. So is C.I. There's a large number of us, women, who've dropped out due to the sexism and other things and then stayed out due to the homophobia and refusal of the White House to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
You may have kind of heard about that.
David Brock and the vaginal order woman are trying to get money. It's not that George Soros and others suddenly decided to donate to groups and not political parties -- as it's portrayed in the press -- it's that they were on their own and not very powerful.
They're thinking that by taking the money away from Barack, et al, they can get us back on board. Without a large number of us, they're nothing. They're the public figure heads because they love to toot their own horns. But they really need a full crew of big donors (or to dig even deeper in their own pockets).
So having finally realized -- as a result of the mid-terms -- that we're not going to give money to the various Democratic committees for re-election, they're trying to tell us we'll build structure instead.
C.I.'s been very nice about David Brock over the years. If you missed it, she delinked from Media Matters weeks ago. She also called David out publicly at her site.
He wants the money. He may get some. But she'll ensure he crawls on his belly before he gets a dime.
They are the problem, the David Brocks, etc.
Stories are popping up about resistance to Brock and questions about him. Those aren't coming from nowhere nor are they going away.
He has a minor player -- with vaginal odor -- who brought him in and she wants to be the face -- what an ugly face -- of the movement whether it's a coffee one or a get-out-the-vote.
She'd do better to see a doctor about her odor.
But, in the meantime, as a mutual friend of C.I.'s and mine declared, "Let's see these monkeys dance for the money." Yes, let's see that. They bully and attack everyone else. But they need money. We may toss a few coins out on the stage just to see them dance.
It didn't have to be this way but they chose the path and forced everyone else down it.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):