That old bogeyman Ulysses S. Socialism has arrived again on the usual signal — an approaching election where medical care and social welfare are big issues with voters and politicians. It has been so for more than a century, although memories, as always, are in short supply.
Every feint by old Sam is terrifying, which is why he is always just offstage. Donald Trump counts on him to persuade enough voters that the staid old Democratic Party has suddenly become the agent of Marxism so that Trump can climb back into office next year. It is not likely to happen, but Democrats from Roosevelt and Truman to Obama and a few Republicans, too, have been flummoxed about how to fight the socialist label.
Democratic voters, like the politicians, should understand that socialized medicine has virtually no history in the United States beyond veterans care, and no serious politician proposes it today — not even the self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders. Great Britain adopted socialized medicine in 1911, along with unemployment insurance and a minimum wage. The United States would embrace the minimum wage and unemployment compensation, but no one in government ever proposed that the government adopt David Lloyd George’s plan for the government to become not just the insurer for everyone but also the medical provider.
Sanders and a good half the field of Democratic presidential candidates support the concept of “Medicare for all,” although a few of them also favor other steps, including reinforcing the Affordable Care Act as the path to get to universal insurance. Medicare for all is treated by the media, including the statewide daily, as a radical idea bordering on socialism.