The Need for More Like Bernie Sanders: Alternative to Government Of, By and For the Corporations

NORFOLK, VA - FEBRUARY 23:  Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) greets supporters during a rally at the Scope arena on February 23, 2016
NORFOLK, VA - FEBRUARY 23: Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) greets supporters during a rally at the Scope arena on February 23, 2016 in Norfolk, VA. (Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Unlimited money in politics and the corporate control over our government that it buys have totally subverted U.S. democracy. Too many candidates who take corporate money are in thrall to corporate influence, resulting in government of, by and for big business. Public disillusionment with the political establishment grows out of a deep visceral sense that government no longer works for the people. That government primarily serves corporations is obvious in looking at health care policy, energy policy, so-called "free trade" deals, and many industry-authored preemption laws that bypass the will of the people. A failed two-party political system, through its super-delegate and rule-making systems, etc., primarily reinforces dominance of the parties over the people.

The health insurance and pharmaceutical industries have positioned themselves in the middle of health care reform to benefit their bottom lines. Corporatist advocates of "free-market" health care see no contradiction in a health care model built around for-profit commercial insurance middlemen and the profiteering pharmaceutical industry, both subsidized by hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars annually. The savings by elimination of the subsidization of these industries and the 31 percent higher administrative costs generated by multiple for-profit insurances, is enough to provide health care for all - insure the uninsured and improve coverage of the underinsured.

The mocking of Sen. Bernie Sanders' intent for true universal single payer health care by corporate media and the political establishment -- Hillary Clinton and her surrogates calling Sanders "unrealistic," Marco Rubio calling for "free enterprise, not socialism" -- is a mark of their loyalty to maintaining the status quo subsidization of their corporate funders/allies, and the unquestioning elevation of profits over health care. Some corporate media outlets holding sizable investments in private health care also have financial conflicts of interest when reporting health care reform. Media often scorns social welfare programs that benefit working people, while blatant corporate welfare goes unquestioned as wealthy elites feed from the Treasury trough.

Taxpayers already fund 64 percent of U.S. health care, more public dollars per capita than the citizens of other nations that have universal health programs. Thus, U.S. taxpayers already pay for universal health care, but we don't receive it. Dr. Steffie Woolhandler of Physicians for a National Health Program, observes, "....billions are squandered on paperwork, and insurers and drug companies pocket huge profits at taxpayer expense."

Signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson, Medicare was enacted within 11 months, able to reach its target population without computers. Opponents' characterization of Medicare-for-All as "socialized medicine" is a misnomer. It is, rather "socialized insurance," which describes the way insurance is supposed to work - everyone pays into an insurance pool, and receives health care as needed. With Medicare already in place, it could now be improved and expanded to all. The only obstacle is lack of political will to do what is right for the people.

Political right establishment types like Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour reflexively parrot Ronald Reagan's mantra "government is not the solution...government is the problem." He attributes dissatisfaction with establishment politics in 2016 to disgust with "big government." To the contrary, many identify corporate control of government as the core problem of corrupted Washington politics. The exponential expansion of money in politics and the upward transfer of wealth by policies established over several decades has increased the powerful hold of corporate elites over government, crushing democracy.

In the area of trade, candidateBarack Obama voiced opposition to NAFTA, whereas, he has now doubled down to promote the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) - called "NAFTA on steroids." The trade treaty was negotiated in secret almost entirely by hundreds of corporate lobbyists, and would surrender power to multinational corporations to bypass U.S. laws and courts in order to overturn our laws and regulations. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton proclaimed the benefits of the TPP, though as a candidate in 2016 she has hardly mentioned it. Bernie Sanders has never wavered from his opposition to yet another trade deal that primarily serves the corporate bottom line instead of working families, and is certain to offshore still more jobs.

Corporatists in Congress, the judiciary and the executive branch serve their corporate allies, not the people. It is a source of profound dissatisfaction to many that our two-party political structure does not work for the people, that Washington serves the corporatocracy, subsidizing an entrenched health-insurance-pharmaceutical industrial complex; a fossil fuel industrial behemoth; the military-weapons-war labyrinth that propagates Cheney's endless middle east war, and has unleashed the curse of the National Rifle Association that elevates the rule of gun over rule of law.

The profound sense of betrayal surrounding a failed political system that does not serve the people has prompted the turn to perceived non-insiders in the 2016 election year, even propelling a raving demagogue to the forefront of Republican presidential politics.

Common wisdom among the corporate establishment is that Bernie Sanders is "unrealistic," promising people the impossible. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe scorns the notion of "free college education" and "free health care" (actually people pay according to ability). Why not reorganize our priorities to put the people first, instead of big payouts to greedy corporatists?