In an excellent essay posted on the site October2011.org, Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program writes that the real reason we still don’t have Medicare for all in this country is because of the immense power of concentrated wealth.
…the single payer movement is not in a position to counter the corporate stranglehold on our political process. And, in reality, winning single payer in isolation will not accomplish much towards improving the health of our population if we do not also address the social determinants of health such as education, the environment, housing, violence, jobs and equal rights.
Under our current political system, one in which Democrats and Republicans are controlled by concentrated corporate power and in which independent parties have no opportunity to succeed, all who advocate for peace and social, economic and environmental justice face the same barriers. Together these movements have the strength to take on corporate power. We will never match corporate power with our collective dollars when the richest 400 people have more wealth than 154 million people, but we can defeat them with our collective voices.
Dr. Flowers is right. We must acknowledge the fact that the U.S. political system is rigged in favor of the enriched few. A system where politicians must constantly raise huge sums of money in order to gain office is a system that serves the interests of the wealthy few over the interests of the many. This system is the primary barrier to achieving a healthcare reform that is fair, equitable and affordable for all. And that is a system that must be changed. Concentrated power must be confronted and defeated by organizing coalitions of single payer activists with other groups who fight for social and economic justice. We can do this if we work together.