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No Is Not Enough: Naomi Klein on Bernie’s Medicare-for-All Bill & Future of Democratic Party

StorySeptember 18, 2017
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Last week, Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would provide universal healthcare by expanding Medicare to include every American. Sanders introduced the bill flanked by doctors, nurses and some of the bill’s 15 Democratic co-sponsors. For more, we’re joined by best-selling author Naomi Klein.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Our guest for the hour, Naomi Klein. Last week, Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would provide universal healthcare by expanding Medicare to include every American. Sanders introduced the bill flanked by doctors, nurses and some of the bill’s—and this is what’s new from his previous bills—some of the bill’s 15 Democratic co-sponsors.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Today, we begin the debate, vital to the future of our economy, as to why it is that in the United States we spend almost twice as much per capita on healthcare as any other nation on Earth, and yet we have 28 million people without any health insurance and even more who are underinsured, with high deductibles and copayments.

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, that is Bernie Sanders. We’re with Naomi Klein, who comes from the country of Canada. Naomi, your response, not only to what he’s done there—and it is fascinating, what happened. Two weeks before his announcement, he had no co-sponsors, as usual for each time he introduced this bill. What might be most telling is that the people who jumped on board were people who might be running for president in the next election, and so they saw this as a winner. Talk about this very different vision of what could be offered in America.

NAOMI KLEIN: Right. I mean, I think it’s an incredibly encouraging development that Sanders has led in this way and that so many people see the writing on the wall, right? Because I think this posture of just resisting Trump, just being anti-Trump, this posture of “no”—right?—which is why I called the book No Is Not Enough, is catastrophic politically, morally, ecologically, because it is not enough to just get to where we were before Trump, because where we were before Trump is what produced Trump. And it is the landscape that supercharged the fascist right. And it is also the landscape that failed to energize progressives in the last electoral cycle, because there was not enough of an offer, not enough of an answer to the kind of fake populism that Trump was peddling. And so, you know, this is not new for Sanders. He has been talking about Medicare for all for a very long time. But it is new to have figures like Cory Booker, with his ties to the insurance industry, looking around and going, “This is what’s actually needed to succeed in this political landscape.”

And I think we need to expand that, from Medicare for all, clean energy for all, 100 percent renewable energy for the 100 percent, which we’re talking about more and more within the climate movement. And I think we see people pushing that envelope, you know, young people covered by DACA saying, “Well, we’re not satisfied with just defending DACA. We don’t want to be pitted against our parents. We want status for all.” So, you know, that political ambition is increasing. So it isn’t just about holding the line, protecting where things were before Trump, but actually getting somewhere else. And I think what we need in the coming months is connecting the dots between all of these issues to really build a people’s platform, so we see—and I think we’re starting to see the outlines of that, which is very exciting. Yeah, I am from Canada, and I enjoy Medicare for all.


NAOMI KLEIN: I was—yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —isn’t it why you really grew up there, why your parents—your parents were Americans, left because of the Vietnam War. Your dad was a doctor.

NAOMI KLEIN: But stayed for the healthcare, yeah. No, it’s absolutely true. And, in fact, we moved back to the United States briefly when I was a child, and my father didn’t want to work in the American healthcare system, didn’t want to work in a system where you had to be rich to get sick, and was part of that process of building up this system, which is under attack in Canada, which is not perfect, but remains a model. And there’s a great deal of misinformation about the Canadian system within the United States, and it’s spread very deliberately. You know, it’s a system that needs better funding, that needs more protection, but at its core, you know, it’s incredibly simple. I was glad to see Danielle Martin standing with Bernie Sanders, who is one of the great defenders—a doctor—of the public healthcare system in Canada, making the argument that what we need to do is fund it better. We need to expand it, actually, in Canada. But this is fundamentally—you know, I’ve had catastrophic illness in my family, and it’s an amazing thing to have somebody in your family be in hospital for two years and get a bill for $25, you know, for what cable television cost or something like that.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Hillary Clinton speaking on CBS with Lesley Stahl after the release of her book, What Happened, her take on the 2016 presidential election.

HILLARY CLINTON: I’ve been a Democrat for decades. I have supported Democrats. I’ve worked for Democrats. Bernie’s not a Democrat. And that’s not a slam. That’s what he says himself. And I think a lot of what he churned up in the primary campaign was very hurtful in the general election against me. And I see him doing the same thing. I see him, you know, with his supporters. He doesn’t disown the things they say about, you know, some of my favorite Democrats, people like Kamala Harris, who is out there speaking up and speaking out, and she’s being attacked from the left. Enough!

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Hillary Clinton. On Meet the Press on Sunday, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders responded to Clinton’s criticism.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I worked as hard as I could after endorsing Hillary Clinton. I went all over this country. And I would remind people—you know, people say, “Well, not everybody who voted for Bernie ended up voting for Hillary.” No kidding. That’s what happens in politics. If my memory is correct, in 2008, something like 24 percent of the people who voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries ended up voting for John McCain. That’s the nature of politics. Most people, you know, are not rigidly Democrats or Republicans; they vote where they want. I worked as hard as I could to see that Hillary Clinton would be elected president.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, this isn’t just between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. This goes to the direction of the Democratic Party, which is what’s really important here. And you were just about to go into what needs to happen, and this is the sixth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, when thousands streamed into Zuccotti Park, not far from our studios here in New York, talking about the 99 percent and the 1 percent. So, talk about what you see happening. I mean, on the one hand, 15 co-sponsors—he’ll probably get more. You had Elizabeth Warren. You had Kamala Harris, the first, the new African-American senator from California, and many others, Leahy, as well—not considered the closest friend of Bernie Sanders—signing up.

NAOMI KLEIN: And look, it’s certainly interesting timing that Hillary Clinton is out there sort of like reprosecuting, finger pointing about the campaign, while Bernie is out there trying to solve the underlying problem. And, you know, we know that that bill is not going to pass now, but if it becomes the centerpiece of the next presidential campaign, that could be very, very significant. And so, I don’t—personally, I don’t think Bernie has ever looked better. I think that the comparison is very clear there. And he is taking the party exactly where it needs to go.

AMY GOODMAN: So, in terms of people organizing, we have a whole other issue, which actually has direct connections, because when you look at the people hardest hit, for example, when it comes to climate change, again, it is not all equal. While many homes of the rich and poor got destroyed, who gets to rebuild, who gets the advantages, who gets the incentives is a whole other issue, and who lives next to these toxic chemical plants that might be further deregulated.


AMY GOODMAN: But the issue of white supremacy, which is also a key issue right now, after the attack in Charlottesville, the tiki torch-bearing men, hundreds of them, young men, not wearing white hoods, because maybe they felt safer now. They didn’t have to cover their identity. And it goes right up to Jemele Hill, who is the ESPN anchor, who just tweeted out the words “President Trump is a white supremacist,” and the White House now is saying that she should be fired, that anyone who calls the president a white supremacist. At the same time, in just the last week, he has doubled down on talking about everyone being at fault in Charlottesville.

NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, yeah. No, and it’s not just people being pressured to be fired, but getting death threats, when they make statements like that. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a wonderful writer, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, been on this show, you know, a Princeton professor, when she said the same thing, faced a flurry of death threats and had to cancel public events because of it.

So, you know, he is signaling—Trump is signaling. He is flirting. He has created space. And frankly, it’s going to get worse. And it’s going to get worse because his economic populist arguments are something he’s unable to deliver on. He was never serious about that. And this is—you know, we saw this well before he entered office, when here he was campaigning against Goldman Sachs, attacking Hillary and Ted Cruz for their ties to Goldman Sachs, then appointing five former Goldman Sachs executives. You know, he has staged a corporate coup. The way he’s renegotiating trade deals is to make things worse for workers and better for corporations. So all of these grand promises about bringing the jobs back, about protecting Social Security, protecting healthcare, he’s lied about all of it, right? And he won with this very toxic cocktail of racism, yes, of white supremacy, of xenophobia, mixing it in with speaking to that economic disempowerment and the reality of having been discarded in the age of globalization. He won’t deliver on the economic side, and it will become more important for him to deliver on the racism. So we’re going to see more of it.

AMY GOODMAN: So, the question is: How are people responding? After the white supremacist march in Charlottesville, where he talked about “very fine people,” 40,000 people descended in Boston—


AMY GOODMAN: —on what was supposed to be a white supremacist rally, and they hunkered down in a gazebo in the middle of Boston Common. The whole movement around statues and monuments is actually much bigger than statues and monuments. It’s monumental how people around the country are saying, “What do we celebrate, and what do we condemn?” Talk about that grassroots organizing, in this last minute.

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, and the other thing that I think has been very confusing to watch was there is this moment where Trump blames both sides, and everybody is horrified by this, and then, in the weeks that follow, there is this relentless attack on antifa from the same liberals who were horrified by that statement, where they are creating this clear equivalency, for some reason expending massive amounts of energy painting antifa as the enemy, who are the people who are standing up to the fascists, as Trump refers to them, “the other side”—a very revealing statement.

So, you know, and also, I mean, even last night’s moment at the Emmys, which we haven’t discussed, Amy, I mean, I think, signaling that this is all some big joke that everybody is in on, you know, it’s not a question of whether it was funny or not, or whether people laughed or not. What that was signaling—

AMY GOODMAN: Sean Spicer.

NAOMI KLEIN: That Sean Spicer moment—was just this sort of elite party that everybody is in on, except you. You know?

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to leave it there. Folks could also go to our Facebook page. You’ll see our Facebook Live discussion with Naomi. Naomi Klein, author of No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need.

Congratulations to former Democracy Now! producer Amy Littlefield and Daniel Patterson on their wedding this past Saturday.

Democracy Now! co-host Juan González is speaking in Newark's Abyssinian Church, and then, next, to Kansas City. And Saturday, he'll be at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Up Next

“Pivotal Moment in American History”: Sen. Sanders Unveils Medicare-for-All Bill with 15 Co-Sponsors

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