Let me tell you story of last night's Democratic Party debate in Las Vegas, one, not of a billionaire hoisted by his own words, nor of a showy debater eviscerating two opponents, but of a moral test posed to and failed by four candidates.
"Access to health care" is a lie
"Mayor Buttigieg really has a slogan that was thought up by his consultants," Warren thundered as Pete made his signature beaver boy face, "to paper over a thin version of a plan that would leave millions of people unable to afford health care."
Anyone who has had the misfortune of falling ill or injured in America can tell you that health care in America is a nightmare at the best of times, even with a robust insurer package. Especially with a robust insurer package.
Actually getting covered initially is a crapshoot; in the event you fall unresponsive, you'll be rushed to the ambulance company's associated hospital – which could very well be 'out of network'. Even if you have company-provided or union-provided insurance, the vital lifesaving procedures might not even be covered. Even something as simple as being put on an IV drip can cost four thousand dollars out of pocket – which is three thousand, seven hundred and fifty dollars more than half of american workers can afford. Insurers routinely deny procedures and medicine that would provide a better quality of life. And even when you're supposedly covered, you have to fight the insurer every step of the way to have your hospital bills recompensed.
And that's IF you have health care coverage, which... millions do not, and they have it worse. Collectively, almost half a million Americans file for medical-induced bankruptcy every year (about 450,000 if you want to be a pedantic asshole, which is 450,000 too many).
Uruguay, Canada, France, and fifteen other countries offer true, universal, free healthcare.
"GEE WHIZ, WHY CAN'T AMERICA?"
Buttigieg and Klobuchar, when confronted with this question, resorted to a chorus of "but how are we gonna pay for it?"
We already are, dingdongs: the form of the blood and deaths of those left behind by America's profit-obsessed parody of a health care system in the shattered lives of those bankrupted by it, and in the trillions of profit reaped by the medical-pharmaceutical complex every single year.
(a decade after the Affordable Care Act, 27 million americans have no health care coverage)
Biden and Bloomberg were lost on stage, unable to find their footing, floundering to salvage the remains of respectability in the maelstrom of mediocrity Klobuchar and Buttigieg – despite their qualifications – had unleashed.
Even Warren roasted Sanders – accusing Sanders of having a plan that would leave Americans in the cold, branding herself the smart choice. (Her plan is a slow fade towards a variant of Medicare for All, rather than Bernie's plan of immediate expansion.)
The ideological difference between Bernie and the others was starkly highlighted by the closing questions. On the question of Capital, Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Warren declared themselves avowed capitalists. On the question of whether the candidates would prefer a Plurality to decide the nomination or the full convention – which includes 500 superdelegates on the second round – the capitalist five said that they 'trust the process'.
It's a stark choice of vision. Not, as Buttigieg implied in a snarky statement, a choice between different shades of gray, but a choice between people-oriented politics or sticking a smiley bandage over America profit-obsessed society.
"[...] Shouldn't have to choose between a man who wants to burn down the party, and [...] a billionaire"
It was Buttigieg who laid out the stark choice party members faced: more of the same versus - as the moderators castigated Sanders' reforms - a "revolution".
In the saddest of spectacles, Buttigieg and Klobuchar both claimed that their plans (a public option) were what Barack Obama had wanted to implement. As continuing his legacy, if you will.
Buttigieg did a classic McCain, casting Sanders as the socialist villain out to radically destroy the status quo, a status quo that Buttigieg thinks would be just fine if a hillbilly from Indiana could put a smiley face on Washington. (Apart from climate, but even then Buttigieg kicked the can of change down the road to 2050)
Apropos nothing, Biden decided tonight was a good night to declare himself vehemently opposed to guns, aiming for the crowd who thinks America is on the right track but needs fewer guns and a re-run of Obama's 2012 administration.
By the end, Bloomberg had been reduced to shambles, a smoldering ruin of ambition, a man who had managed to buy his way into the debate but had nothing to say apart from positing a six year deadline to save the planet and calling for rail, unable to see that it was the mad scramble for profit that led the world to the precipice of climate disaster.
A lack of niceness is not the root cause of America's horrifying wealth gap, income inequality, racial inequality, health care horrors, or the impending climate cliff; the root cause of America's problems is capital. There is no one little change you can make – whether that be reparations, ordering supporters to be kind, or a weak public health care option – that would alone save America.
Buttigieg and Klobuchar fear change, and think you should, too.
But the truth is, nothing has changed; for-profit "healthcare", mass deportations, drone strikes, a complete capture of politics by corporate interest were churning along long ago – and unless voters take radical action, will continue to stain America's soul long after tonight's debate.
Last night was a moral test – not just a test of candidates' values, but of our values: would we put people over profits? should billionaires exist? should workers have a larger say in their workplaces? should everyone receive health care, or just those who can afford it?
A test that too many candidates failed.
Did America pass? Did Nevada pass?
We'll find out... Saturday.