I am the eldest son of Korean Immigrants. My father was born in Pyongyang and served in the Korean Navy during the Korean War, while my Mom came to the U.S. as a refugee to study. My maternal grandfather, Kim Sang Don, was the very first popularly elected mayor of Seoul. Prior to being elected Mayor, he served as a congressman and led a commission to bring Koreans who illegally profited from extorting their fellow Koreans during the Japanese occupation (Chin-Il-Pah) to justice. He survived an assassination attempt by the President Syngman Rhee administration, who was protecting the Chin-Il-Pah and would lead a sit in at the National Assembly which would eventually lead to his overthrow.
Shortly after my Grandfather became Mayor of Seoul, there was a military coup d'tat and my grandfather would be unfairly charged and jailed for eight months. He was eventually found to be innocent, but placed under house arrest, and finally exiled to the U.S. He was not a politician, but rather was a very honest man of great faith and integrity who never had a dime to his name. He believed that we as a society were defined by how we cared for the least among us and practiced love for one another and Matthew 25:35-36 "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
My Grandfather would continue to fight for democracy until his death and my family was not allowed to return to Korea until 1992 when democracy was fully restored.
My mom would eventually graduate from Columbia Teacher's college with a masters degree in early childhood education. When she graduated, her first mentor and employer was Shirley Chisholm. Ms. Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to congress and the first woman to ever run for President. Prior to running for office, she directed several inner city preschools in NYC, and my Mom would work under her tutelage for 6 years. In fact, it was Ms. Chisholm who got my Mom her green card.
Eventually, Ms. Chisholm would run for congress while my mother would go on to lead the Head Start program in Newark, NJ for 20+ years. In 1972, Ms. Chisholm became the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States, and the first woman ever to run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
When Ms. Chisholm ran for president, she would send out an envelop asking individuals for donations that read "Up until now there were only two ways finance a campaign for major office. One was to be a millionaire. The other was to get the support of a group that had a lot of money and was looking to make more. I am certainly not a millionaire, and I will not be bought by any group". She would say she was "Unbought and Unbossed".
Ms. Chisholm advocated powerfully for those without a voice and constantly fought to better the lives of those that were marginalized.
Everything I remember about my Grandfather and know about Ms Chisholm leads me to support Bernie Sanders.
As a radiation oncologist for 20 years, I have seen far too many of my patients go bankrupt strictly because they got cancer and sadly most of them had insurance. As one of a dwindling number of physicians in California who will accepts Medicaid patients, I have seen far too many patients present with advanced stage cancer solely because they could not get proper preventative screening or find a physician who would see them in a timely fashion. The harsh reality is that we have a broken and immoral healthcare system where 29 million people remain uninsured and 31 million are underinsured. Of this later group, 44% of people will delay seeking care because they cannot afford the co-pays and deductibles and 51% will have trouble paying off their medical bills and debt. As for prescription drugs, 1 out of 10 Americans will skip filling a prescription because they cannot afford the cost.
For all the good the ACA has done, there is no mechanism to address any of these major issues, and for the millions of patients above, they simply cannot continue the deeply flawed status quo and rely upon incremental change to help them in their greatest time of need.
Senator Sanders is the only candidate who believes that healthcare is a human right and that the only true solution to provide comprehensive universal healthcare is to improve, strengthen, and expand Medicare for all.
When business tax breaks for providing healthcare to employees are factored in, it is estimated that the US taxpayer covers about 62 cents of every healthcare dollar spent in the U.S. When coupled with the fact that the private insurance industry takes roughly 20-31 cents of every healthcare dollar away from actual patient care for marketing, administrative costs, and exorbitant salaries, it is clear that we are already paying more than enough for universal healthcare. We are just not getting it.
It is a little-known fact that of all Asian American Pacific Islander groups in the U.S., Koreans remain the most uninsured. Ironically Korea has a single payer healthcare system that is considered one of the most advanced in the world, with tremendous patient satisfaction. Senator Sanders is has been fighting for the past decade to transform our broken healthcare system into a similar single payer medicare for all system where everyone will have access to comprehensive healthcare and no one will ever go bankrupt again simply because they have a serious illness.
Some have said that Senator Sanders is unrealistic and making promises that he cannot keep. The truth is that as long as we remain in denial and continue to protect the status quo, millions will continue to go bankrupt simply because they get sick while tens of thousands will die each year simply because they are uninsured. To believe that the status quo is acceptable is to be in denial and unrealistic. Acknowledging this and fighting for something radically better is not. I commend Senator Sanders for speaking truth to our broken status quo and for raising all of our aspirations and demands for something far greater than ourselves, like my Grandfather and Shirley Chisholm both did.