The Daily Vigil, 8/8/17: Howard Dean Poisons the Well
Remember When…: Some of you might not be old enough to remember, but there was a time when Howard Dean was actually quite progressive for American politics. He believed in things like single payer health care, and was generally seen as a force for good; a charismatic former governor who could move the conversation in America to the left. Unfortunately, it seems as though all it took to erode those principles was a little bit of Big Pharma money, as Dean has more recently been crowing about how a Medicare For All system is (apparently) just one of the Left’s many positions that make us “whiny”. Forget the savings it would provide, forget the good it would do for each and every American- nope, all of that means nothing. We’re whiners and we don’t actually want to win. Thanks for clearing that up, Dean, I guess we can all go home now.
No Coincidence: This is as unfortunate as it is unsurprising. Dean now works for the lobbying group Dentons, at which he shills for Big Pharma. This reflects the use of a depressingly common tactic, in which powerful industries throw a comparatively paltry amount of money to a former progressive, who in turn uses their former bona fides to erode the arguments they used to make. Dean still claims to support single payer, but those claims are hollow as he undermines it when it matters most.
And it sounds so reasonable, doesn’t it? “I’ve chosen to go with the pragmatist”. Oh, how rational. What a needed shot of sanity amidst a bruising, topsy-turvy Primary season. Thank God we still have Dean around, what would we do without him?
And that’s the insidious erosion. That’s why Dentons pays him the big bucks, because he can poison the well with such subtlety and disarming aww-shucks guile that you can watch him do it in plain sight and what he actually did might never fully register. You walk away from that interview leaning a little more toward “Welp, I guess Bernie’s just a crazy ol’ kook- Howard Dean says so! And we liked him, remember?”
Mission accomplished- in 2016, at least. Fortunately, the narrative is shifting today.
Divide and Conquer: By attempting to de-legitimize the burgeoning Progressive movement as “whiny” and thus not to be taken seriously, Dean and his puppeteers are attempting to quarantine the Leftward ideology that has been spreading like wildfire since 2016. Through painting the support of Medicare for All as some fringe issue that only Sanders and a handful of his most die-hard fans want, Dean hopes to prevent the loss of private insurance profits that M4A would bring. But it isn’t working. There is record support for Medicare for All in the House, and the Republican failure (so far) at passing Wealthcare has only shone an even-greater spotlight on what American healthcare should be. Dean’s betrayal of his former principles is depressing, but remember that as his condemnations get angrier, he and his bosses are getting more desperate.
This IS the Negotiating Table: In closing, when Establishment-types accuse us of “purity tests” or being unconcerned with winning elections, ask them how it feels to lose 910 seats or so since Obama came into office. Remember that it is likely that middling, believe-in-nothing neoliberalism that drove voters away from the once-principled Democratic party and into the arms of ever-more firebrand Republicans… or caused voters to stay home altogether. And if they tell you that the Progressive movement is “unwilling to negotiate” or some other nonsense of that nature, remind them that this period is the negotiation. This is the opening argument, the initial offer. We are presenting our best case to the American public, and we believe that a strong showing of pro-working class principle will inspire people to surge out to the voting booths. All politics involves compromise and collaboration, but it makes no sense for us to start horse-trading now; we’d only have to do it again once we get our people elected!
Pay these voices no heed. We’re gonna keep doing our thing, building bridges and organizing. Once it comes time to vote, we’ll see whose pitch resonated most with America.
You may be asking yourself, “Why hasn’t he talked about London?”, and the answer is because there isn’t much more to say about it. Terrorists continue to be cowardly pieces of garbage that target innocent civilians; civilians suffer the unimaginable grief of losing friends and family before their time; politicians denounce the atrocities, and some are opportunistic scum-suckers who use the tragedy to make further authoritarian power grabs; authoritarian governments continue to associate with and fund totalitarian regimes who support and instigate radical terrorist groups. Until we address all links in this chain (and plenty others I’m sure I missed in the oversimplification), the cycle is going to continue.