As he gears up to introduce on Wednesday his much-anticipated Medicare for All bill—which has already garnered the support of several high-profile Democratic senators—Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is urging activists and lawmakers to remember that bringing legislation to the table is merely the first step in a long struggle to guarantee healthcare for all Americans.
"We need to develop a political movement which is prepared to take on and defeat a ruling class whose greed is destroying our nation."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders"This is not going to be a quick or easy fight," Sanders noted in a recent email to supporters. "We'll be taking on the insurance companies, the drug companies, Wall Street, and all those who make billions in profit from the current dysfunctional system."
Sanders and his allies are now executing a massive digital ad campaign that seeks to build upon the surging support for Medicare for All at the grassroots. As Common Dreams reported, the campaign has hauled in a flood of small-dollar contributions, reminiscent of Sanders' 2016 presidential run.
Now, Sanders is preparing to continue this nationwide push for Medicare for All after he introduces his legislation in the Senate this week.
"We're going to put together a grassroots movement that organizes people in all parts of this country much like we did during the presidential race," Sanders wrote in the email. "There will be rallies, buttons, bumper stickers, shirts, and most importantly people organizing in their communities across the country."
Acknowledging in an interview with NPR that the legislation will not pass the "very right-wing" Congress, Sanders has said the purpose of introducing the legislation, and of launching the Medicare for All campaign, is to continue building popular support while also calling attention to the fact that "the United States is the only major country on earth not to guarantee healthcare to all people."
Our Revolution—the group that was formed on the heels of Sanders' presidential run—and other progressive organizations are joining the Vermont senator's single-payer push by phone-banking and knocking on doors throughout the country.
Dan Cantor, national director of the Working Families Party, told CNN that one of the key drivers of the groundswell of support for single payer was the GOP's attempt to strip healthcare from more than 20 million Americans.
"In the end, the biggest impact of the Republicans' attack on healthcare may be this: It has strengthened the resolve of many, many Americans to fight for healthcare for all," Cantor concluded.
Over the last several months, a growing number of Democratic lawmakers have joined grassroots organizations by publicly expressing support for Medicare for All—something that, as Vox's Dylan Matthews notes, would not have happened several years ago.
"This is what it looks like when the center of gravity in Democratic politics shifts—towards decency and boldness."
—Ben Wikler, MoveOn.orgAs Common Dreams reported last week, even Democrats who were once fierce opponents of single payer are now beginning to view it as the only alternative to the current for-profit system.
"This is what it looks like when the center of gravity in Democratic politics shifts—towards decency and boldness," notes Ben Wikler, Washington director at MoveOn.org, which is backing Sanders' Medicare for All campaign.
But, consistent with his message during the presidential race, Sanders continues to insist that real change will not come from the top down.
"Change never happens from inside of Washington, D.C. Certainly not with this president and not with this Congress. No, real change always comes from our communities and the grassroots," Sanders concluded. "If we are still serious about transforming our country, if we are serious about rebuilding the middle class, we need to develop a political movement which is prepared to take on and defeat a ruling class whose greed is destroying our nation."