"Let us be dissatisfied"
“Let us be dissatisfied!”
These words, taken from a speech by Dr. King, were the refrain of a speech today by the actor Wendell Pierce. He was the one of few speakers at the One Nation rally who began to express what I and my colleagues have experienced since George Bush left the White House. We must be dissatisfied until we have social and economic justice for all in this nation. Dissatisfaction fuels our drive to end the great inequalities in this nation until we succeed.
The United States is an outlier, abnormal when compared to other industrialized nations in so many ways. We have the greatest income inequalities (except for Singapore) and this inequality is associated with poor performance in many areas of social wellbeing. We spend the most on health care and we leave the greatest percentage of our population either completely uncovered (50.7 million) or partially covered and at risk of financial ruin in the face of a serious accident or illness.
The One Nation march which was held in Washington, D.C. today was intended to support efforts to elect Democrats in November and speaker after speaker expounded the importance of electing Democrats. Yet we met very different concerns among those in attendance.
We heard and saw the majority of people talking about issues, not elections. We joined with coalitions marching for peace and for immigrant rights and unions demanding the right to organize, workplace dignity, job security and a living wage. There were signs with slogans supporting an end to corporate power and personhood, as well as those for jobs, education and an end to racism. Teachers were in the house, defending public education.
Our aim was to invited other attendees at the rally to renew support for single payer health care reform/improved Medicare for all. We were doctors and health care advocates from around the country standing together to make it clear that we still have a health care crisis and we still need single payer. And we were greeted warmly, as people joined our chants, took our literature and signs, and cheered as we passed.
The health reform that recently passed does not solve the fundamental problems that we have in this country. Simply put, it will cost too much and cover too few. Today we saw that another reform is still possible.
We know that two-thirds of people in the U.S. support single payer. Among Democrats, it is closer to four out of five who support it. Yet in spite of the great popularity of single payer, many leading Democrats became convinced that single payer was not politically feasible and accepted the bill that passed. They supported a law written by and for the very industries that profit off our sick-care non-system, instead of the opinions of their political base. While the party continues to laud their bill as a great success, today we saw that it is imperative that we continue to reach out to Democrats with our message.
And so, single payer supporters gathered in Washington. Doctors wore their white coats or scrubs. Advocates decorated themselves with stickers and carried signs. We marched as a group through the crowds carrying banners and we chanted, “We still need health care: Medicare for all!” And everywhere we went, people cheered and took photographs.
The single payer movement is building. We must make this manifest. We must be present and spread our message. One of the banners we carried read, “Every day, 120 Americans die from lack of health care. It doesn’t have to be this way. Single payer now. Everybody in, nobody out.” This is a human tragedy that is unacceptable.
And so let us be dissatisfied until this health injustice ends.