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  Progressive Political Blog

Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Single Payer Is NOT A Litmus Test

Category: Health Care
Posted: 10/09/17 14:49

by Dave Mindeman

I have long been a single payer advocate. Four years ago I wrote a piece for Minnpost regarding this - and I stand by those words.

However, in the political world, single payer gets jacked around with false notions and false assumptions. Conservatives have managed to hijack a lot of perceptions about single payer. False perceptions but out there never-the-less.

The pushback against single payer is still a problem. And for this reason, I will not force Democratic candidates to abide by some single payer litmus test. If they hold to the universal coverage axiom, we can start with that, and if elected they can be convinced to support single payer in a workable form.

A previous problem that has hurt the single payer push is the rushed bill that Vermont put forward. It was flawed from the beginning and single payer failed in that state. When conservatives point to that failure, it has an effect.

Single payer health care will require strong advocacy. But that advocacy has little use in a Republican led Congress or legislature. We have to allow Democratic candidates to find a winning campaign path - and if they feel that single payer may hamper that quest for the moment, then I cannot fault them for that.

If you support single payer and support a candidate who has the same value for that issue - by all means work hard for that person. But if they do not get an endorsement or lose a primary to another candidate who is not so clear about it, do not disappear. Keep working to elect the candidate on the ballot who will listen to your advocacy.

Too often, progressives let the perfect wreck the good enough.
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It Is Trump Showing Disrespect

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 10/09/17 00:22, Edited: 10/09/17 00:23

by Dave Mindeman

With all the things Trump does to roil his base up and roil the rest of us into a frenzy, this "honor the flag" thing is the most curious and the most divisive.

Colin Kaepernick is not currently playing and the time line involving his silent protest started quietly and without notice.

On the August 14 and August 20th exhibition games, Kaepernick sat on the bench instead of standing. Nobody noticed. Then on August 26th, a reporter tweeted out a photo in general about the 49er bench and it showed Kaepernick sitting, barely visible behind the Gatorade cart. It was noticed later that night and the 49ers were asked about it - and confirmed that Kaepernick was sitting for the national anthem. Somebody finally asked Kaepernick himself.....

Kaepernick told the media... he sat because of the oppression of people of color and ongoing issues with police brutality.

Now it became a public topic and Kaepernick explained further on Aug 28th:

"I'm going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change. When there's significant change and I feel that flag represents what it's supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it's supposed to, I'll stand."

"This stand wasn't for me. This is because I'm seeing things happen to people that don't have a voice, people that don't have a platform to talk and have their voices heard, and effect change. So I'm in the position where I can do that and I'm going to do that for people that can't."

"It's something that can unify this team. It's something that can unify this country. If we have these real conversations that are uncomfortable for a lot of people. If we have these conversations, there's a better understanding of where both sides are coming from."

"I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That's not happening. People are dying in vain because this country isn't holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody. That's something that's not happening. I've seen videos, I've seen circumstances where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they have fought for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for, on our land. That's not right."


By September 1st, Kaepernick was troubled by his protest being misinterpreted as disrespect for the toops. After talking to a teammate who was a Green Beret, he decided taking a knee was more approrpiate:

"We were talking to [Boyer] about how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from fighting for our country, but keep the focus on what the issues really are. And as we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee. Because there are issues that still need to be addressed and it was also a way to show more respect to the men and women who fight for this country."

After the game, Kaepernick announced his $1 million donation that would be distributed to charities that concentrated on racial issues. Unlike Trump, his charitable donations have been documented.

That same week (Sept 1), a Seattle Seahawk player protested by sitting on the bench. On September 4th, Megan Rapinoe, a professional women's soccer player took a knee at her game, in solidarity, saying:

"As a gay American, (I) know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties."

The Seattle soccer team's ownership was angry and changed the timing of playing the national anthem to happen while the teams were in the locker room.

The US Soccer league, completely missing the point, "pleaded for players and coaches to use the national anthem as a moment to reflect upon the liberties and freedom we all appreciate in this country."

It wasn't about that at all.

On September 9th - Brandon Marshall of Denver became the first NFL player to take a knee during a regular season game - not exhibition. Brandon made a clear statement about his decision:

"I'm not against the military. I'm not against the police or America. I'm against social injustice."

That cost Brandon two endorsement contracts...and once again, they seemed to have not even listened to his explanation (statement from Century Link)....

"While we acknowledge Brandon's right, we also believe that whatever issues we face, we also occasionally must stand together to show our allegiance to our common bond as a nation. In our view, the national anthem is one of those moments. For this reason, while we wish Brandon the best this season, we are politely terminating our agreement with him."

Tone deaf.

On September 11th, the conversation became a little more difficult. Four Miami players stood for the 9/11 ceremonies, but took a knee during the national anthem. Seattle, Kansas City, and San Diego decided to lock arms. One KC player raised his fist. A few New England, St. Louis, and other 49er players raised their fists as well.

On September 16th, an entire Seattle high school team, Garfield High, knelt for the Anthem - as well as the entire coaching staff. Some other high schools had players do this as well. On Sept 17, the entire cheerleading squad of Howard University (a black college)knelt for the Anthem.

The list seems to grow as more football players, band members, and WNBA teams (including the Lynx) joined in the protest - and gave the same explanation which nobody seems to be listening to.

And clearly without any understanding of why these things have been happening, Trump escalated the reaction to it by making it one of those "Love it or Leave it" moments.

Social injustice is so ingrained with the Trump segment of our population that there is no amount of reasonable dialogue that can break through the stereotypical mantra that comes from white privilege like Trump.

Kaepernick didn't start his protest in some kind of racial vacuum. Police shootings and beatings had reached a virtual breaking point. Kaepernick reacted as a man who just had to do something, but with a clearly non-violent method.

He wanted to start a discussion - but in this political climate, discussions get lost in the echo chamber soup. The extreme reaction is the norm and the racial motives get misconstrued.

Trump's plotted stunt with VP Mike Pence leaving the Colts game because some players wanted to express their First Amendment right to protest was the real disservice. That was the true disrespect. Pence and Trump owe the people of Indianapolis an apology - they spoiled the game, they spoiled the honor bestowed on Peyton Manning, and they disrespected players who quietly stated a belief.

Peaceful protest should be listened to. It should lead to civil discourse. It should be encouraged in the wake of violent tendencies or reactions of the past.

This is how citizens are supposed to release their frustrations.

Kaepernick wasn't looking to start a movement. No, his critics have started that. When you react to a protest by disrespecting its meaning, you will only push that envelope to the next level.

President Trump thinks the flag should be respected no matter what. But that flag has weathered many things. It weathered several wars. It has flown over our fight for civil rights.... the rights of women, of gay Americans, and Transgender Americans. That flag represents not only freedom...but equality. And when we disrespect those who protest peacefully and with honor before that great flag, we disrespect the very foundation of what this country was built on.

Yes, Mr. Trump - you are the latest in a long line of threats to that great flag. But we will overcome you as we have overcome trials and tribulations in the past.

Kneeling before the flag, to me, is a sign of ultimate respect for the country that flag represents - it is the right way to protest....and Colin Kaepernick deserves that same respect.
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