With the virtual Democratic National Convention three weeks away, over 360 delegates have signed a pledge to reject any platform that doesn’t include “Medicare for All.”
“We, the undersigned delegates to the Democratic National Convention, pledge to vote against any 2020 Platform that does not include a universal, single-payer, Medicare-For-All, platform plank,” the pledge says.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ delegates from Nevada spearheaded the pledge, and while it’s predominantly backed by Sanders delegates, some of nominee Joe Biden’s delegates have signed on. Progressive Democrats of America and RootsAction.org, two left-leaning activist groups, also plan to endorse the petition.
Biden has earned 2632 delegates, with Sanders collecting the second-highest number at 1076.
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A draft of the Democratic platform obtained by Politico last week did not endorse universal Medicare, but the platform committee is examining the document again Monday. Judith Whitmer, a delegate heading up the petition, told Politico that a member of the committee was convinced to propose an amendment in support of “Medicare for All.”
A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released in May indicated that 57 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat supported “Medicare for All,” including 78 percent of Democrats and only 24 percent of Republicans. But a report by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics in November 2019 found that Democratic House candidates who supported “Medicare for All” in 2018 performed worse at the ballot box than their counterparts.
The Democratic Party is already wavering between the traditional, self-professed moderation of the old party that 77-year-old Biden represents, and the more radical positions of the new left. In the wake of the George Floyd protests and the riots that often followed them, the radical wings of the Democratic Party have popularized positions such as abolishing police, while old-guard Democrats like Biden have sought to keep a safe distance from such ideas.
As Biden tries to walk the line between appeasing far-left voters in his own party and appealing to moderates, “Medicare for All” is another issue that could divide the party’s (and Biden’s) image.
Sanders and other candidates such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren championed “Medicare for All” during the Democratic primary, while Biden remained against it.
Biden’s criticism of Sanders’ plan usually fixated on the enormous costs of universal healthcare and the steep tax increases those costs would cause. “‘Medicare for All’ not only ends private health coverage, it eliminates millions of jobs, and increases taxes on the middle class,” Biden said in December 2019.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 20, 2019