Purge The Party
Socialism offers us the luxury of imagining a better future. Until then, we’re stuck with the Democrats.
In the late hours of Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, Senate Republicans plowed forward with their agenda to obliterate Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act is a flawed, confusing patchwork of legislation, but it accomplished a handful of vital goals, and repealing it with no alternative in place — and with the GOP running the show, there is unlikely to be a good-faith attempt to make healthcare cheaper and more universal — the well-being of millions of the poorest and most desperate Americans is at stake.
Senate Democrats offered several amendments which could have saved pieces of the ACA and ensured the protection of various vulnerable groups: poor children, those with pre-existing conditions, women using birth control. The Republicans voted them down. The one progressive amendment that did garner some Republican support was put forward by Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). It would have allowed the importation of less-expensive Canadian drugs. Twelve Republican senators, mainly libertarian-minded lawmakers like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, joined in with the “yea” vote.
If the Democrats had held together and voted as a unified party, their 46 members, along with the 2 independent senators who caucus with them and the 12 Republicans supporting the bill, would have carried and some small measure of better healthcare reform might have seen the light of day. Instead, a dozen Democrats switched sides and voted against the amendment, and for the idea that healthcare is a luxury for those with means.
According to the nonpartisan watchdog Center for Responsive Politics, all twelve have accepted donations from the Pharmaceutical industry.
Patty Murray of Washington has taken $477,444.
Bob Casey of Pennsylvania has taken $470,329.
Michael Bennet of Colorado has taken $396,917.
Cory Booker of New Jersey has taken $385,678.
Bob Menendez of New Jersey has taken $296,638.
Chris Coons of Delaware has taken $229,800.
Tom Carper of Delaware has taken $225,010.
Mark Warner of Virginia has taken $168,500.
Joe Donnelly of Indiana has taken $161,183.
Martin Heinrich of New Mexico has taken $150,500.
Jon Tester of Montana has taken $135,100.
Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota has taken $69,525.
Maria Cantwell of Washington has taken $59,750.
For $3,226,374, the pharmaceutical industry bought enough Democrats to win vote that will guarantee tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in profit. For less than three-and-a-quarter million dollars, the pharmaceutical industry bought a vote that will force people to choose between medicine and food. When the Republicans dismantle Obamacare and replace it with tax cuts for the rich, and millions of people are kicked off of their coverage, Americans will die because they can no longer afford the medication they need.
After this vote, cowardly senators like Casey and Booker tried to obfuscate its impact, citing a different amendment that was voted down, and claiming that they were protecting Americans from lower-quality and potentially dangerous Canadian drugs. To quote a Republican, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, “Where are the dead Canadians?”
Our two-party system requires “big tent” parties, which force disparate and occasionally opposing groups to work together. On the Democratic side, it’s fine if that big tent results in environmentalists and unions working out how to promote infrastructure development and create jobs while safeguarding our natural resources and reversing climate charge. What we cannot tolerate is lawmakers in the party of the downtrodden selling the lives of their citizens to secure campaign contributions.
Neoliberal economics, with its pernicious idea that the elite must be allowed to order society as it sees fit, for the greatest economic efficiency, has no place in any party which seeks the support of the poor and working classes. In the richest country on earth, an economic system which does not ensure a fair share for all of its citizens is immoral, and the servants of that system must not be allowed to prosper. For the future of the Democratic Party, and for the good of millions of Americans, lawmakers like this damnable dozen — who are bought and paid for by corporate donations — must be purged.