By: Phelan Acheson | Our Voice Contributor
Oftentimes, “electability” is seemingly unquantifiable or even declarable solely by conventional “experts” such as pundits and party leaders. The thing is, electability can be quantified by data.
In 75 out of 79 polls since 2016, Bernie Sanders beats Donald Trump in a head to head match-up. (General Election: Trump vs. Sanders, 2020) As recently as February 2020, 72% of Democratic Voters believe Senator Sanders would beat President Trump in the general election. (Moylor, 2020) In these same polling averages, no other candidate for the nomination can claim such a clear lead in voter opinion or hard-polling.
Sanders also polls best with independent voters, who ultimately decide elections. (Hopkins, 2016) In short, Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont has the strongest path to beating President Donald Trump in the general election.
The number one issue with voters in general is healthcare, with 81% of polled voters stating it is either “extremely important” or “very important”. (Hrynowski, 2020) In this case, common wisdom suggests that a candidate’s plans and policies on healthcare can make or break a candidacy. In fact, relying on common sense isn’t the only tool usable in this analysis.
Looking at the history of polling data combined with existing analysis by Saagar Enjeti, it becomes clear that Senator Elizabeth Warren’s downfall in the polls that ultimately ended in her withdrawing from the race on March 5th, 2020 stemmed from her pivot from single-payer Medicare For All as proposed by Senator Sanders to a multi-tier roll-out starting with a public option and leading to a version of Medicare For All after three years. (Enjeti, 2019)
As it stands, Sanders has been the only candidate sticking to a purely single-payer version of Medicare For All for months now. A recent peer-reviewed study published by Yale epidemiologists in “The Lancet” concluded the following-
“…a single-payer, universal health-care system is likely to lead to a 13% savings in national health-care expenditure, equivalent to more than US$450 billion annually (based on the value of the US$ in 2017). The entire system could be funded with less financial outlay than is incurred by employers and households paying for health-care premiums combined with existing government allocations. This shift to single-payer health care would provide the greatest relief to lower-income households. Furthermore, we estimate that ensuring health-care access for all Americans would save more than 68 000 lives…”
These lives saved and costs reduced are figured yearly. Medicare For All saves the country $ 450,000,000,000 ($450 billion) and 680,000 lives in its first decade. This makes unadulterated, pure, single-payer Medicare For All as proposed by Sanders the morally sound and fiscally conservative choice.
Tied for second as “extremely important”, education policy is also a candidacy molder. (Hrynowski, 2020)
Senator Sanders’ 10-point “Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education” proposes wrestling education away from corporate interest and moving it towards the public good. The ten parts are-
1. Combating Racial Discrimination and School Segregation
2. End the Unaccountable Profit-Motives of Charter Schools
3. Equitable Funding for Public Schools
4. Strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
5. Give Teachers a Much-Deserved Raise and Empower them to Teach
6. Expand After-School/Summer Education Programs
7. Universal School Meals
8. Community Schools
9. School Infrastructure
10. Make Schools Safe and Inclusive Places for All
When announcing this plan, Sanders wrote “The United States, as the wealthiest country in history, should have the best education system in the world. Today, in a highly competitive global economy, if we are going to have the kind of standard of living that the people of this country deserve, we need to have the best educated workforce. But let me be very honest with you, and tell you that, sadly, that is not the case today…” (Milka, 2019)
Sanders is not wrong. In 2013, the United Nations Human Development Report listed the United States as 5th on the Human Development Index (United Nations Development Programme, 2013) (HDI) for education. A later 2018 study found the United States of America ranked 27th for healthcare and education on a global index. (Bendiz, 2018) Clearly, Americans are seeing diminishing returns on education, despite spending over $6,000 more per pupil relative to the global average as of 2014. (Rusge, 2018)
On to the single-most threatening issue: climate change. According to an IPCC report, if we aren’t carbon neutral by 2030, the ultimate result will be extinction for humanity and many other species. (Climate Reality Project, 2018) Sanders is the singular climate candidate. He was endorsed in a democratic vote by the youth-led Sunrise Movement. (Herndon, 2020) According to Data For Progress, his Green New Deal is the most comprehensive. (Data For Progress, 2019) Sanders has repeatedly called for an international effort to fight climate change rather than wage war upon each other.
“Every candidate running for president has got to answer the following very simple question: At a time when we need to address the planetary crisis of climate change, and transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainability, should we continue to give $135 billion in tax breaks and subsidies over the next decade to fossil fuel companies?” – Bernie Sanders
When America’s defense spending and fossil fuel / oil subsidies combine, they add up to roughly $226,532,000 an hour in taxpayer expenditure, for 2019 alone. To restate, that’s over $226 million per hour spent on war and oil. (Hartung & Smithberger, 2019) (Dickinson, 2019) Sanders is the only candidate to vote against all of President Trump’s military budgets and propose a reduction in military spending. (Congress.gov) (Golshan, 2019)
In closing, I’d like to get personal by sharing about my grandfather, Doug. Doug was a rare, gentle man. Above all, radical tolerance was his policy. He could fix anything with duct tape and bypass anything else with whatever he had on hand. He was a sentimental type, and despite moving hundreds of times over the course of his life, kept a hold of all the possessions his kids and grandkids had gifted to him.
Grandpa died in 2017 because he had to choose. His “freedom of choice” was to choose 2 of the following three drugs- insulin, heart attack medicine, or stroke medicine. He knew going off any one of these would increase his likelihood of an earlier death. Yet, because of pharmaceutical profits and the prices necessary to sustain them, he could only choose two.
Ultimately, Grandpa chose to go off the medicine that prevents strokes. He thought dying from a stroke would be less painful than dying from a heart attack or sugar coma. He died from a stroke not many months later.
I don’t share this to wallow in mourning, but to point out that there’s an easy policy solution that would’ve saved him, that’s cheaper and more fiscally responsible than the system we have now and works. In fact, this kind of policy solution is ½ the cost and would save 68,000 American lives a year. The policy I speak of provides true freedom of choice for all Americans, regardless of circumstance or income. And, it has a name- Medicare For All.
Medicare For All ends copays, deductibles, coinsurances, premiums, etc., for all care, covers health, dental, vision, hearing, and in home care, solves the donut hole for prescriptions on current Medicare, and has no out of pocket costs for regular care, with prescriptions capped at $200/year. This is known as a single-payer health system. 30+ other countries have universal healthcare, a majority of which use a single-payer health system as their method of implementation.
Under Medicare for all, you could choose any doctor, any hospital, any pharmacy, any clinic and it’s covered. Yes, the Medicare tax changes a little bit to pay for it. But, what is an insurance premium if not a tax you pay to a private corporation for the pleasure of being insured?