“This American Life” details how hard it was for a young idealistic Democrat to stick to his political ideals and core policies in the face of the pressure from his own Democratic party to secure campaign funds. In other words, even his own friends and campaigners wanted him to compromise and right from the start! The issue? Medicare for all. As Vox says, 62% of Americans love the idea. Also:-
Historically, Medicare-for-all has meant single-payer health insurance, a national government-run program that covered every American and replaced private coverage entirely, similar to the government-run health care programs in Canada and some European countries.
The Economist puts it even more bluntly.
Despite the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, America remains an outlier in health-care provision. It has some of the best hospitals in the world, but it is also the only large rich country without universal health coverage. And health-care costs can be financially ruinous.
If that isn’t putting the cart before the horse, I don’t know what is. Basic healthcare, like getting a gangrenous finger removed or a broken bone set in a cast, should not be a matter of economic privilege. Every citizen of a developed nation should have the right to basic healthcare.
What kind of system allows a poor single mother to go practically blind and forces her onto a disability pension when a simple $15,000 cataract operation could save her eyesight, and help her care for the next generation of Americans? That particular story enraged Australia’s Dr Karl, our own Bill Nye of the science world, enough to rant on his science show. Yet too many privileged American businessmen – even Democrats – think health care is a market-game. They come up with other solutions by other names that would just tinker with the current system, not overhaul it. In comes the pressure to compromise. But as a new candidate, you need their money!
In America, politics is a rich man’s game. So maybe we should limit career politicians to the Parliament (Lower House that makes laws), as I do think career politicians have some value in the skills and ideas and visions they bring to government. But what if we saved the Senate (Upper House that reviews laws) for the average citizen, and had a system that freed them from the corrupting influence of the campaign trail in the first place? Could it be that we are in such desperate need of fair representation that instead of democracy-by-corrupted-campaigning, we should have at least the house of review represented by sheer dumb luck? We already trust sheer random chance in selecting a ‘jury of our peers’, the average person on the street, in our court system. Government by random representation is called Sortition. To me it makes sense in the house of review. They wouldn’t be drafting the laws, that’s for the Parliament. But review them? You bet! Maybe you have to meet certain criteria to go in the pool, such as at least finishing High School. Maybe not! If you’re worried — as I was — that the average citizen might not be smart or smooth enough to represent your State or Nation in a house of review, then why are we trusting them in court? As the Sortition wiki says:-
According to numerous scholars such as Page and Landemore, cognitive diversity is more important to creating successful ideas than the average ability level of a group. This “Diversity trumps ability theorem” is essential to why sortition is a viable democratic option. Simply put, random selection of persons of average intelligence performs better than a collection of the best individual problem solvers.
Imagine it. Instead of some group of elites with political retirement deals with big business forming a sort of ‘shadow government cabal’, it’s the man and woman on the street reviewing the laws. Your barber or cab driver or school teacher gets to sit and chat with a bunch of other citizens on whether or not a proposed law is fair. If over 60% vote to reject it, then back the bill goes for editing in Parliament. I think it has a chance of introducing a fairer, saner, more honest form of actual democracy. As long as a review referendum was built in for 10 years later, I’d certainly welcome a trial of it here in Australia!