This is a guest column by Ron Stouffer.
Our Very Disturbing Weekend in Harrisburg (Democratic State Committee)
As observers to the Dem. State Committee on Saturday, June 9, 2007, we witnessed sausage being made! Friday night in the Rules Committee we were allowed to observe and even give our opinions on 3 resolutions which the gatekeepers at the Rules Committee decide to bring or not to bring to the full floor on Saturday.
Universal single payer passed 4-0 (there are 14 members supposed to be there).
There were no language changes to this Chester County initiated resolution. We thought, wow, slam dunk for passage on Saturday!
Wrong! When Saturday arrived, a mysterious metamorphosis occurred! First the 250 members of the whole body were told language changes occurred. This can kill or table a resolution since the body wants to see what those changes are on paper. Second, the name was now "universal" not universal single payer. Remember the insurance industry and Rendell don't really like single payer because the insurance industry would no longer be hawking(selling) their over-priced, deductible and co-pay laden policies! They would be unable to compete with the superior benefits and efficiencies of a publicly administered single payer. (I don't know if this had any influence over the process or not). So, in the end, "universal" passed, another example of pusillanimous pussy-footing by a timid state party apparatus.
A similar fate befell the resolution to impeach Bush. It would be "premature" we were told! As for verifiable paper trail voting, so many language changes occurred in Rules that it had no chance on the floor. Impeachment failed 3-1 in Rules but they took it to the floor anyway where the party hierarchy pretty well stabbed it to death. Verifiable paper trail, with all the amended language, likewise passed Rules only to be tabled at the general meeting.
So, 3 resolutions intended to give our candidates an idea of where the "people" stand on issues were put through the sausage grinder. It seems the candidates will continue getting their platforms from the powerful corporations who have a vested financial interest in seeing their agendas pass.
I must report that Tom Herman and the other Berks Dems. who made it to the meeting served our county well! Tom advocated for the 3 resolutions effectively and with vigor. He stood up to the Party hierarchy and carried our message. All members appeared to have voted "correctly" on the several votes and motions. The lesson learned is we need to keep building the party from the base up. Currently a large portion of the 250 people are being taken for fools by the hierarchical system. The other portion go along with the hierarchy for many reasons, probably patronage, ignorance, obedience to authority, etc. and who knows what else! So, rather than quit the Party(which they'd love), we need more people with pure motives and a grounded progressive philosophy. Progressives who want real change must JOIN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY BECAUSE YOU HATE IT--a title I saw on an email somewhere. The more it progresses, the more we can start liking it again!
Finally, let's use the vote for "universal" in a positive way. Since universal can only be achieved through a single payer (or an ultra-highly subsidized, inefficient, costly privatized "system" like we now have that will break the bank and continue denial of care and other unethical practices leading our society to bankruptcy), let's market it this way: We all agree on universal care(coverage for all people). Do we want universal privatized with profits skimming 20-25% of each health dollar spent or universal single payer with only 5% or less in overhead and no profits involved. Do we want superior benefits, like no co-pays and no deductibles plus long term nursing care included as in universal single payer, or do we want stripped down plans from 100s of profit driven privatized insurers whose benefit package can't come close to a universal single payer? The choice is clear--guaranteed health care for all citizens through a universal single payer system.