Ed Bortz, PA Green for Congress, speech for single-payer coalition
March 31, 2010 in Congressional Campaigns
Ed Bortz, the Pennsylvania Green Party’s nominee for US House of Representatives PA-14, recently delivered the following speech to a coalition of single-payer health care advocates:
Thank you single-payer activists for inviting me to speak tonight about my campaign for Congress in the 14th District of Pennsylvania.This is a great time to be a Green Party candidate for public office. Voters are looking for real and sustainable alternatives to business as usual. The track record of the demopublican/republicrat Congress going back for many years now, has been one of endless war, job losses, foreclosures, banking & financial deregulation and ultimately collapse, environmental assault, degradation, and climate change denial, rising tuition costs and school closures, yet trillions of dollars in bailouts to Wall Street. Washington has been unresponsive to the serious injury and despair facing the millions…and instead have carried on in the war rooms and back rooms like we don’t exist.
It’s in this context that I’ve decided to run for office and adopt the slogan:
Put decision making in the hands of the people, not corporations.
As you all know, the recent health insurance legislation is so clearly aligned
with those corporate insurance interests. After all, it was written in the back rooms
with the voices for single-payer and Improved Medicare for All left out of the evaluation, off the table and out in the street. And speaking of the street, I’d like to read a little from my recent article in FireDogLake:
Get off your knees and stand
“If there was a perfect moment, for universal single-payer healthcare activists to move from talk to courageous screams for justice, it would be right now. Forget the political calculus…burning issues must always trump the politics of the elites.
When civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were murdered in Mississippi in 1964, folks didn’t wait for Congress and Federal investigations to show their unequivocal commitment (along with tears and shouts) for equal rights…we brought it to the streets, even as teenagers in my hometown of Pittsburgh.
What if the Voting Rights Act of 1965 provided insurance for those denied
voting rights, rather than the actual guarantee of voting rights as a human right?
What if the Voting Rights Act required the purchase of an outrageous poll tax
in order to vote, even if you were considered “eligible” to vote?
What would Dr. King have thought about that kind of “compromise?”
If you’re honest with yourself, the answers are self-evident…
If we consider “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” to be bedrock principles of our society, it surely follows that healthcare as a HUMAN RIGHT should be included…”
So let me close with this last thought:
It’s time to look forward. What would the political landscape be in a Congress with a few Green Party legislators who are unequivocally committed to Improved Medicare for All, (as the revised health insurance system proves to be inadequate for the crisis at hand, and the crises yet to come)? What would it look like when these Green legislators invited all of their constituents to join them in Washington for congressional hearings and demonstrations demanding a single-payer system? What then would be the content of the public dialogue? We have are our ideas , we have the streets, we have our organizations and growing independent media outlets. Now it’s time to have our own legislators. If not now, when?