Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

ONE DAY left in this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

A middle-aged man reading the 'New York Times' in an armchair in this archive image. (Photo: George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

If Medicare for All 'Too Risky,' How Would NYT Have Reported Push for Social Security, Abolition, or the Overthrow of King George III?

If this is how they cover the effort to secure health care as a human right, I began to wonder how  the Times editorial staff cover other momentous changes in American history.

Mark Dudzic

On Tuesday of this week, the New York Times posted this headline:

As one of the dozens of articles emanating from political establishment organs—including the Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal—these pieces can be taken as an indicator of how much distress the growing movement to win Medicare for All is causing  Washington insiders. And you can always count on the "paper of record" to find the appropriate "leaders," "officials," and "staffers" to weigh in with appropriate gravitas.

So it got me to wondering.  How would the Times editorial staff cover other momentous changes in American history? A quick search of the imaginary web—which operates in my mind—came up with these tidbits:

'Social Security Too Risky,' Democratic Party Leaders Say

(NYT: March 1, 1935) — Responding to President Roosevelt’s vow to push for the passage of Social Security in the recently convened Congress, several Democratic leaders urged caution.  "This could really screw things up for the 1936 election cycle," said one.  A prominent financial backer of the party added, "We've already stabilized the banking industry and Wall Street is running smoothly again. I don't see what the urgency is." Officials are suggesting that Congress would be better off adopting a "Social Security for Those Who Want It" plan.  Under the plan, every American would have the freedom to choose to purchase a government-backed retirement plan underwritten by America’s largest investment banking operations.

'Abolition Too Risky,' Republican Party Leaders Say

(NYT: December 12, 1864) — Responding to President Lincoln’s vow to push for the passage of a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery in his second term, several Republican leaders urged caution.  "This could play right into the hands of our opponents and really hurt our electoral prospects in the midterms," said one. A prominent financial backer of the party added, “The Confederates are on the run and the war will soon be over. I don't see what the urgency is.  What we really need is a plan to stabilize the cotton industry because Egypt is eating our lunch."  Officials are suggesting that Congress would be better off adopting the "Abolition for Those Who Want It" plan.  Under the plan, enslaved Americans would have the choice to purchase their freedom or remain enslaved. Family plans would be available and generous financing terms would be underwritten by America's largest investment banking operations.

'Independence Too Risky,' Tory Leaders Say

(NYT: July 5, 1776)—Responding to the Continental Congress' Declaration of Independence, several Tory leaders urged caution.  "We were hoping to promote moderate Brits to run for Parliament and help gain more favorable treatment for the colonies," said one. "This declaration will just piss them off." A prominent financial backer of the party added, "We've already been able to resolve most of our trade issues with the Crown.  I don't see what the urgency is." Officials are suggesting that the Continental Congress consider the "Independence for Those Who Want It," plan.  Under the plan, the Northwest Territories would be opened up for settlement by those who support independence with the promise that a later Parliament will give serious consideration to any petition that they may submit requesting independence.  The government would back land purchases in the territories with generous financing terms underwritten by America's largest investment banking operations.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Mark Dudzic

Mark Dudzic

Mark Dudzic is a longtime union activist and former national organizer of the Labor Party. He currently serves as chair of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare. Follow the LCSP on Twitter: @LaborforSPayer


Just ONE DAY left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

As US Rolls Back Reproductive Rights, Sierra Leone Moves to Decriminalize Abortion

"I'm hopeful today's announcement gives activists in the U.S., and especially Black women given the shared history, a restored faith that change is possible and progress can be made."

Brett Wilkins ·

'Indefensible': Outrage as New Reporting Shines Light on Biden Deal With McConnell

The president has reportedly agreed to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime judgeship. In exchange, McConnell has vowed to stop blocking two Biden picks for term-limited U.S. attorney posts.

Jake Johnson ·

Assange Makes Final Appeal Against US Extradition

"If Julian Assange is not free, neither are we," said a protester at a Friday demonstration against the WikiLeaks founder's impending transfer. "None of us is free."

Brett Wilkins ·

'Payoff for 40 Years of Dark Money': Supreme Court Delivers for Corporate America

"It was the conservative court's larger agenda to gut the regulatory state and decimate executive powers to protect Americans' health and safety," warned one expert.

Jake Johnson ·

NARAL Pro-Choice Endorses Fetterman—Who Vows to End Senate Filibuster to Protect Abortion Rights

"We know we can count on him to boldly fight for abortion rights and access," said the head of one of the nation's largest reproductive rights advocacy groups.

Jon Queally ·

Common Dreams Logo