Friday, December 15, 2017

Derek Cressman For State Senate-- Guest Post


Derek Cressman, a veteran of the voting rights movement best known for his work to overturn Citizens United with Common Cause, is challenging incumbent Democratic state senator Richard Pan. Only three senate Democrats have a higher ranking by the California Chamber of Commerce than Pan, one of the most conservative Dems in the California legislature. Those three, Cathleen Galgiani, Steve Glazer, and Richard Roth, come from districts more conservative than Pan’s deep blue Senate District 6, which has more Bernie voters than Republicans. This arguably makes Pan the Democrat most out of sync with his district in the entire California legislature. Pan, a physician who was elected with massive financial support from the California Medical Association and the pharmaceutical industry, is one of just three faux-Democrats in the Senate who have not supported single-payer healthcare.

Goal ThermometerThis greater-Sacramento region district sent two Democrats to the November general election in 2014 and the prospects are good for that again in 2018, setting up a showdown between a progressive Dem and one who relies upon corporate money in a real test for the new leadership of the California Democratic Party. State Democrats will decide early next year whether to endorse a candidate who will champion the party’s platform of single-payer healthcare, or stick with an old boys’ network that circles the wagons around incumbents who undermine the party’s principles. Read Derek’s guest post below and check out his website at You can donate to his campaign by tapping on the legislative elections thermometer on the right.

California Democrats Must Stand for Single-Payer Healthcare
-by Derek Cressman

Democrats in California have the power to enact a “Medicare for All” style of healthcare reform that would eliminate wasteful profiteering by private health insurance firms and provide basic healthcare to every Californian. Unlike at the federal level, where Senator Kamala Harris has joined Bernie Sanders and others to stake out a righteous policy position by co-sponsoring federal legislation only to be blocked by Republicans, our state legislature, which has a two-thirds democratic majority, could actually make it happen.

First off, it’s the right thing to do. If your house is threatened by wildfires, firefighters arrive within minutes with an implicit message that they are from the government and they are here to help. Even stingy conservatives are happy to pay for this important public service with our tax dollars because it’s the most efficient way to protect everyone. Yet if you are struck with a heart attack or cancer, you get help only if you can produce an insurance card and shell out big money for co-pays and deductibles. As the most prosperous society in history, California can and should meet our moral obligation to care for one another in the most cost-efficient way possible—government provided health insurance for everyone. Private health insurance companies add little value to our economy but exact huge costs with wasteful profiteering and outrageous CEO salaries. We know government provided insurance works from Medicare and Medi-Cal. In fact, the government is already providing funds for 71% of healthcare costs in California. It would be better, and ultimately cheaper, to bring that up to 100%.

Secondly, it’s imperative that Democrats strengthen trust with voters by standing firm on our beliefs. The California Democratic Party platform calls for “legislation to create and implement a publicly funded (single-payer), privately delivered, fiscally tractable, affordable, comprehensive, secure, high-quality, efficient, and sustainable healthcare system for all Californians.” But our overwhelmingly Democratic legislature has refused to enact this principle. When parties say one thing and do another, people stop believing in them. The rise in independent voters, the perils of the #DemExit movement and attraction among some voters to the Green Party can all be traced to the Democrats unwillingness to fight for what we say we believe in. At the federal level, a lack of trust in all institutions, including government, has paved the way for the politics of demagoguery and scapegoating. We need to combat that by showing voters that political parties stand for something and aren’t just posturing to keep their cronies in power.

Finally, California needs to come to grips with the new reality that we cannot count on the federal government to look out for our best interests for the foreseeable future. Even if we manage to rid ourselves of the Trump regime, we face a federal system that is rigged against the majority of people through a US Senate that overrepresents conservative voters in low population red states, a US House that is gerrymandered to such an extent that it cannot offer fair elections, an electoral college that denies sovereignty to a majority of US voters, and a Supreme Court that has been captured by a right wing cabal intent on cementing power for the one percent. While we must fight like hell to resist this federal onslaught even with the deck stacked against us, Californians need to forge our own future on healthcare as we are doing with global warming, marijuana, and justice for immigrants. We can no longer make excuses that we cannot provide single-payer coverage for our fellow Californians because the federal government won’t let us do it. We must find a way to do it ourselves by passing it at the state level and calling the congressional Republicans’ bluff on federalisms, state flexibility and block grants.

I became a candidate for the California Senate to give Sacramento-area voters and the new leaders of the California Democratic Party a choice between an entrenched incumbent who has undermined the Democratic Party’s principles around heath care and a Democrat who will fight for the party’s platform. How the California Democratic Party responds to this choice will tell us a lot about the party’s ability to hold on to progressive and independent voters in the years ahead.

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