Jim Firth: Politics is a brutal business | TheUnion.com

Jim Firth: Politics is a brutal business

The Iowa and New Hampshire primary elections are just days away. The two major Democratic candidates for president, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are close in the polling and are differing on the issue of health care.

A “single-payer – Medicare for All” health care system in our country is what candidate Bernie Sanders wants to bring forward for our country. The Sanders campaign acknowledges that the vision of “Single-payer/ Medicare for All” will not happen on day one of a Sanders Presidency. The question then becomes, why not?

The obstacle is Congress. The Affordable Care Act (ACA – Obama Care) was voted into law in 2010 when Democrats had a majority in both houses of Congress. It was as close a vote as one could imagine, and split along “party” lines. The Republican Party voted NO, and Democrats voted YES. Today, the Republican Party controls Congress. The only way a Single-payer – Medicare for All Act would reach a President Sanders or President Clinton’s desk is if Democrats control Congress.

A Bernie Sanders presidency could offer progressive visions on health care for our country that many Nevada County voters subscribe to. The same could be said for a Hillary Clinton presidency, but actually, the Clinton campaign is seeking something less – improving the ACA. The ACA health care issue has been with us for almost a decade.

Our responsibility as voters is to vote in November 2016 for the candidate that best fits our vision of our country.

The scourge of politics can be that voters must choose between what is necessary and what is doable. The benefit for all Americans is that we live in a democracy where those who participate can win. Of course, if you don’t participate, you have no right to object to the outcome.

The health care issue is one of many crucial issues facing our voters and residents. Presidential candidates from both major political parties are putting forward their vision of how they would like to see our country in the future. The United States is huge; the population diverse, the bottom line for leading 300 million or so people is an ability to get things done. President Obama came into office in 2008 with a majority in Congress – both the House and Senate. Two years later the House majority went to the Republican Party. The 2010 Census and subsequent reapportionment of Congressional Districts throughout our country solidified the Republican Party’s ability, for now, to retain control of The House of Representatives. That became possible because far fewer Democrats voted in 2010 than in 2008. In 2012 Democrats did participate in greater numbers than 2010, but by that time Congressional District lines had been redrawn. President Obama won, but the majority in the Senate turned Republican.

Now, voters are being asked in the Primary Election to vote for a vision. The Democrats can choose between “progressive” and “moderate” candidates. These candidates are close on many issues facing Democratic and Independent voters. Republicans can choose between “establishment” and “outsider/populist” candidates. There appears to me to be a transformation occurring in the Republican Party. The “establishment” wing that includes big money, corporate interests, Wall Street interests and the wealthy class is not able to dictate to the “outsider/populist” wing that includes some white working men and women, many retirees, some small business owners, and pockets of other special interests that they can or will advocate for those interests.

The American middle class, both Democrats and Republicans have taken the brunt of economic disparity during the last 30 years. They get it now. The division in our country is not between political parties, it’s between the wealthy and those who work, or used to work for a living. The primary elections give direction to the major parties on how and often who the ultimate candidates for president should be. That’s the structure of our two-party system (I’ve written before on how that needs to change). After the July 2016 Democratic and Republican conventions each party should have a candidate they will promote in November. There is always a chance that a third or even a fourth candidate could emerge after July 2016. Historically, third party candidates, other than Franklin Roosevelt, haven’t done too well in our national elections.

Our responsibility as voters is to vote in November 2016 for the candidate that best fits our vision of our country. I will judge that candidate on how he or she stands on gun safety, climate change, shared prosperity, health care, voting rights, gender equality, quality public education, diplomacy abroad, public safety, just to name a few.

And since I do vote, I retain my right to object if I don’t like what I see happening in my country.

Jim Firth is chairperson of the Nevada County Democratic Central Committee. His opinions are his own, and not those of any organization.

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