Monday, August 7, 2017

What Should Progressives Do?

There is hardly anything left to say about Donald Trump.  He is a terrible person and probably the worst president in our history. I only qualify the last point because he has only had six months to demonstrate his incompetence and his personality disorders in the White House.  The good news is that Trump has taught us a couple of important lessons.  We can't take our democracy for granted.  The election of an unqualified misfit into the presidency proved that our electoral system has many flaws.  We need to fix them.  Trump's takeover of the Republican Party was only possible because the GOP cultivated the base that continues to support him.  A political party that depends upon votes from the lowest common denominator in our nation has been corrupted in the process. Consequently, Paul Krugman has turned his attention to issues that face the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

The first issue is healthcare.  Krugman likes the idea of a single payer system like Medicare for all.  He would push for that if we were starting from scratch.  He recognizes, however, that 136 million Americans get their health insurance through their employers.  Most of them are happy about that system and they would not be enthusiastic about leaving it.  He reminds us that there are other good ways to provide universal healthcare coverage.  The Dutch system is much like Obamacare and it works well.  The government provides the means so that everyone is able purchase health insurance from private vendors.  He argues that it might be easier to fix the flaws in Obamacare than to push for Medicare for everyone.  Even with its flaws, Obamacare works pretty well in states that have not attempted to undermine it.

The next issue is support for families with children.  The US lags other wealthy nations in the support that the government provides for children.  The cost of daycare for families with both partners working is prohibitive.  Preschool is also expensive for families who don't qualify for government support.  These are real problems that progressives should get behind.  It would help them to win back many middle class voters who feel abandoned by both of our political parties.

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