Democrats Should Campaign for Dutch-Style Health Reforms

Dutch girls cycling in Amsterdam, June 13, 2014
Dutch girls cycling in Amsterdam, June 13, 2014 (Shirley de Jong)

The other day, I explained that the reason Americans can’t get a European-style health-care system is not opposition from insurance companies but the fears of 155 million Americans who currently get health insurance through their employers. They worry that a single-payer system, like Britain’s, would mean higher taxes and lower-quality care.

Such fears — largely unfounded — would undoubtedly be amplified by drug companies, health providers and insurance companies if the Democrats campaigned for “Medicare for all”.

So instead of having an abstract, and probably pointless, debate about which health-care system is superior, why not look at what advocates of single-payer hope to achieve and see if this can’t be done without eliminating private insurance? Read more

Democrats Should Look to the Middle, Not to the Left

Hillary Clinton supporters listen to a speech in Davidson, North Carolina, October 12, 2016
Hillary Clinton supporters listen to a speech in Davidson, North Carolina, October 12, 2016 (Hillary for America/Alyssa S.)

Since last year’s presidential election, the American left has been calling on Democrats to adopt a program of economic populism in order to lure back working-class voters.

This would be a mistake.

A lurch to the left may not bring back working-class whites but would disappoint middle-class voters who have been joining the Democratic Party in far greater numbers. Read more

Democrats, Republicans Split on Diversity and Immigration

Visitors at the de Young museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, California, October 16, 2005
Visitors at the de Young museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, California, October 16, 2005 (Thomas Hawk)

Americans overall have very liberal views of immigration, but there is a partisan divide:

  • An NBC News-The Wall Street Journal poll found that more than three-quarters of Democrats, but less than one-third of Republicans, feel comfortable with societal changes that have made the country more diverse.
  • Democrats, only 29 percent of whom are white and Christian anymore, embrace ethnic and religious diversity as central to the American idea. Republicans, nearly three quarters of whom are white and Christian, see these changes as eroding what they believe America to be about.
  • Not surprisingly, Donald Trump’s supporters worry the most. The Pew Research Center found (PDF) that only 39 percent of them agree diversity makes America stronger.
  • Analysis of post-election survey data by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic found that 79 percent of Americans who agree with the statement “Things have changed so much that I often feel like a stranger in my own country” voted for Trump. Read more

Resistance to Trump Is Making Strange Bedfellows

Republican senator Mike Lee of Utah attends the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, March 3, 2016
Republican senator Mike Lee of Utah attends the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, March 3, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

Democrats in the United States are heaping praise on Republican senator Susan Collins for taking a stand against her party’s health-care reforms.

The praise is deserved. Collins, a centrist Republican from Maine, refused to support a plan that would have taken health care away from millions of low-income Americans while making it cheaper for the wealthy.

But it’s too bad the left doesn’t extend the same gratitude to conservative purists who joined her.

None of the other supposedly moderate Republicans in the Senate supported Collins in her fight against the rushed effort to replace Obamacare. They all caved to right-wing pressure.

Mike Lee of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Jerry Moran of Kansas and Rand Paul of Kentucky held firm. Read more

In Defense of Democratic Centrism

Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York attend a political event in New York City, April 4, 2016
Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York attend a political event in New York City, April 4, 2016 (Hillary for America/Barbara Kinney)

In Current Affairs magazine, Nathan J. Robinson takes issue with the centrism of America’s Democratic Party.

The idea that Democrats can win elections by reminding progressives they have nowhere else to go and reassuring conservatives they won’t go after big business is a dead end, according to Robinson:

For one thing, it doesn’t work. Unless you have Bill Clinton’s special charismatic magic, what actually happens is that progressive voters just stay home, disgusted at the failure of both parties to actually try to improve the country.

This is the left-wing version of the Ted Cruz philosophy: that you can win national elections by mobilizing your base instead of appealing to the center.

The evidence (PDF) is against it. (Also see Scott Alexander.)

A few fanatics might hold out if Democrats nominate too centrist a candidate, like Hillary Clinton, but the majority will make the rational decision and vote for the lesser of two evils, as many Bernie Sanders supporters did in November. Read more

Democrats Need Not Obsess About the White Working Class

A Donald Trump supporter listens to a speech in Washington DC, January 19
A Donald Trump supporter listens to a speech in Washington DC, January 19 (James McNellis)

Democrats in the United States have obsessed about winning back working-class whites since these voters left the party to elect Donald Trump last year.

Even Ruy Teixeira, the author of the “emerging Democratic majority” thesis which holds that ethnic minorities, women and postindustrial workers will ultimately shift the balance of power away from the white working class, tells New York magazine that Democrats cannot ignore the group.

They may be a shrinking demographic, but he points out they still hold power. If Democrats can’t retain a reasonably solid, if minority, level of support among low-income whites, their electoral arithmetic falls apart, Teixeira warns. Read more

Arizona or Ohio? Two Paths for Democrats

A tramcar makes its way through downtown Phoenix, Arizona, May 24, 2009
A tramcar makes its way through downtown Phoenix, Arizona, May 24, 2009 (Christopher White)

NBC News has a longread about what went wrong for Democrats in 2016 and how they can become competitive again nationally.

The report, written by Alex Seitz-Wald, touches on many of the issues we have written about since Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election in November: how the white working class in big industrial states abandoned Democrats; how the concentration of liberal and progressive voters in cities and coastal states has made it harder for them to win majorities in the Electoral College and the Senate.

Seitz-Wald argues that, unless they decide to muddle through, Democrats must choose whether to take what he calls the “Ohio path” or the “Arizona path” to address these problems. Read more