Among troops contributing to four leading Democratic candidates, these military service members together gave 51% of their campaign cash to Sanders. He got more than Buttigieg, Warren and Biden combined.
Counting all five leading candidates including Trump, active-duty troops collectively gave Sanders 39% and Trump just 24%. Biden did worst, at 9%.
Military personnel cut a wide swath across voter demographics, fueling hope that by January 2021 America could have a strong progressive presidential administration, potentially the strongest in US history.
Seth Harp, a military veteran and noted conflict-zone journalist, penned the Rolling Stone piece and reported the data (appended below). He explained:
Though only a proxy measure, it could be a significant bellwether. The military employs 1.4 million people... they represent a vast cross-section of America, from Alaska to Hawaii to Maine. The military is hugely diverse... Most enlisted recruits come from Sunbelt states like Florida and South Carolina, or deindustrialized Midwestern states like Ohio and Pennsylvania...
In other words, many in the military come from swing states. Harp also pointed out:
The simplest explanation for the flow of military donations to Sanders would be his unstinting opposition to disastrous foreign wars... [Also,] service members...already receive the sort of health and educational benefits that he wants to make universal... They understand that being able to go to the doctor or attend college for free is not [like communism]... Personally, I don't know what I would do without the V.A. The facility that I go to in Texas is convenient and free... Making the same benefits available to all Americans would have been a much better use of the...fortune we squandered in Iraq. That attitude is not uncommon among the rank-and-file. [Emphasis mine.]
If Harp's observation holds true, then single-payer universal healthcare, aka Medicare for All, could help drive a potential Sanders landslide this November.
These data validate progressive efforts to defeat a deeply entrenched political machine. Active-duty troops are now showing us what’s possible. Given the trend, it looks like we really could elect a President Sanders — and even perhaps majorities in the House and Senate.
Both will be needed to fully open the way to true justice for all.
DATA SOURCE: Federal Election Commission data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, as reported 1/31/20 by Seth Harp, Rolling Stone. Percentages calculated and compiled by Ira Dember. Dollars rounded to $000. Percentages rounded to 1%. Chart gaphics: Ira Dember, MedicareForAll.us.
STATISTICAL NOTES – FOR WONKS ONLY
Caution: If you are not a wonk, there is a 99.5% probability this section will make your eyes glaze over. To stay out of the weeds, do not read!
Readily available sources don't tell us how many active-duty troops have contributed to Sanders. So where did the 10,000 figure come from? And what does it mean? Glad you asked!
As reported, active-duty military personnel donated $186,000 to Sanders. (Source: Federal Election Commission data from the Center for Responsive Politics, reported by Seth Harp in Rolling Stone).
The Sanders campaign itself reported an average $18 donation for 2019.
$186,000 ÷ $18 = ~10,000 donations IF the average donation size held true for active-duty troops — not a given.
The average donation size could be smaller for active-duty troops because they may have less disposable income than their civilian counterparts. Here's why:
US Army base pay for a newly recruited private is $20,800 a year, rising to $27,600 for a Private First Class after 6 years of service. A freshly minted Second Lieutenant gets $39,400 — not a lot of money on which to raise a young family, even with Army benefits. (Figures rounded.) https://www.goarmy.com/benefits/money/basic-pay-active-duty-soldiers.html
Further, in 2018 a financial industry source estimated that... 44% of active duty military members received a payday loan last year, 68% obtained a tax refund loan, 53% used a non-bank check-cashing service and 57% used a pawn shop — those are all extraordinarily high use rates. For context, less than 10% of all consumers obtained each of those same alternative financial products and services last year. https://www.americanbanker.com/opinion/why-are-payday-loans-so-popular-with-the-military
Payday loans are predatory high-cost loans peddled to borrowers who are desperate. An abusive payday lender, Cash America, boasted in its 2012 annual report, “....we’ve built a thriving business...when, often, our customers have nowhere else to turn.”
Federal law shields military personnel from some of the worst abuses.
Now add it up: relatively low pay plus sky-high rates of desperation borrowing suggest that active-duty troops likely are not lavish political donors. On average, they might not afford to give much as comparable civilians.
A lower average donation, if true, means the number of Sanders donations could be higher than 10,000 to hit that $186,000 total number.
Soldiers' personal finances could also mean they might not give as frequently as their civilian counterparts. Fewer multiple donations would mean more donors would be needed to hit the total amount contributed.
This is largely guesswork and could be wrong. But in the absence of hard facts, logic leads us here.
On balance, then, 10,000 active-duty troops contributing to Sanders seems a reasonable guesstimate. It might even be on the low side.
By contrast, many phone surveys poll 1,000 to 1,500 likely voters. For political pollsters, that's a typical sample size.
When gauging results, a smaller sample equates to less reliable findings. This statistical uncertainty is reflected in a higher margin of error. As the sample size grows, so does our confidence in the results. There's less statistical uncertainty; the margin of error shrinks.
Thus a sample size of perhaps 10,000 people or more can give us relatively high confidence in the results. It doesn't tell us what those results may mean, or what the implications may be, but the statistical results themselves offer a solid starting place.
So when 10,000+ relatively low-paid people chip in to support a political candidate, it could really mean something.
...And because the US military draws disproportionately from working-class families in swing states, it could point to very encouraging news for Sanders' electoral chances in 2020.
Every one of us should be hounding Congress every day to demand single-payer universal healthcare, Medicare for All.
The reason's simple. In a word, FREEDOM.
Freedom from financial woes caused by medical bills crushing millions of American families.
Freedom to choose doctorswithout artificial "provider networks" shackling our choices.
Freedom to change jobswith full health coverage as a human right — and not at an employer's whim.
Freedom to earn your living without missing work because of untreated health issues.
Freedom for you and the children you love to enjoy the best of life. No more skimping on prescriptions and skipping doctor visits because they're unaffordable even with insurance.
Freedom to get chronic conditions handled completely with no questions asked — diabetes, asthma, you-name-it — so they don't worsen from lack of care.
Freedom to get eyeglasses, hearing aids, cavities filled and other health needs met. No out-of-pocket costs.
Freedom from paperwork and mind-numbing complexity. No more navigating all the gotchas and fine print.
Freedom from gut-wrenching uncertainty. Will this cost be covered? Will that one? If it's needed care, it's covered. You show a card, get treated, go home. Simple.
This is what freedom looks like in wealthy nations around the world — except in the US.
Now close your eyes, take a deep breath, let it out slow. Imagine what life will be like when all this comes true for you and your family. The weight off your shoulders. The exuberant feeling, an exhilarating sense of real freedom at last.
This is what freedom will look and feel like under single-payer Medicare for All — once we demand that Congress members stop depriving us of our freedom.
Call your Congress member today. Stand up at the next town hall. Do it again and again. Don't stop till your Congress member co-sponsors single-payer universal healthcare, Medicare for All. In the House, it's HR 1384; in the Senate, S.1129.
Freedom will be ours — but only if we demand it.
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. —Frederick Douglass
Our previous post talked about a healthcare "public option" and a "death spiral." Here's what these and other terms mean.
Public Option. What exactly is a healthcare "public option"? How does it differ from single-payer universal healthcare, Medicare for All? Why is it really just a scam? Two leading public health researchers and M4A advocates explain: https://www.thenation.com/article/insurance-health-care-medicare.
Death Spiral. In health insurance, what is a "death spiral"? Generally, insurers game the system, profiting from healthy people while pushing older, sicker people onto other plans, usually public plans where taxpayers bear the unequal cost. Eventually, the system breaks under the burden of this escalating imbalance — while private insurers make out like bandits. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_spiral_%28insurance%29.
Risk Pool. In health insurance — unless profiteers have gamed the system — the bigger the risk pool, the better. A risk pool consists of all the people being covered. A true single-payer system will cover all 330 million US residents in a single huge, stable, predictable risk pool — equitable and extremely cost-efficient.
#HealthDividend. Efficiency is a key to single-payer's anticipated cost savings. Single-payer Medicare for All will actually cost less overall than what we as a nation are paying today. For details, see https://medicareforall.weebly.com/health-dividend.html on this site.
Simplicity, Taxes, and More. Efficiency also stems from single-payer's simplicity and other factors. By contrast, private insurers are about seven times less efficient. Yet the bulk of cash they rake in, comes from the public purse — from our taxes. So why don't we call this endless Niagara of public money cascading to private insurers, "taxes"? Good question! Why do we complain about taxes but continue paying these profiteers without a whimper? Another good question! Michael Moore wonders too: https://youtu.be/yL722wpTdus?t=923.
Enough is enough. It's time to demand that our members of Congress enact single-payer Medicare for All.
Rightwingers are aiming to kill urgently needed single-payer universal healthcare, Medicare For All (M4A). They are proposing a "public option" that would leave power, control and profits in private insurers' hands. (How's that been workin' for ya?)
Case in point: corporate mainstream news spotlighted Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and "Medicare for All" again this morning, Monday 10/28/19. https://www.npr.org/2019/10/28/773397337/elizabeth-warrens-ambiguity-on-health-care-comes-with-some-side-effects
NPR's so-called 'centrist' slant: M4A is hurting Warren's candidacy, Warren is wavering on M4A, M4A is unpopular with voters, and Sanders is increasingly isolated on M4A. M4A is "too expensive" for voters to support; people are more likely to accept a "public option." Warren is more likely than Sanders to be "pragmatic" on this issue (that is, cave to the corporate rightwing 'centrists').
IMO, directly or indirectly this narrative has Third Way's fingerprints all over it. Third Way is the rightwing-funded 'stink tank' allied with Joe Biden.
RIGHTWINGERS BAIT THE HOOK.
As a corporate media sockpuppet, NPR today clearly signaled to Elizabeth Warren what position she needs to take if she wants the support of old business-as-usual Democratic Party regulars. Basic message: "Betray single-payer and we'll embrace you." In the most explicit way to date, they've baited the hook.
HOW DO WE COUNTERATTACK?
We M4A advocates must flip the script by attacking the bait, the "public option" itself (and, by extension, other crappy incremental non-solutions). We must hammer hard on these raw, inconvenient truths:
(a) while rightwingers and their corporate media puppets call M4A "too expensive," in the long run it's really the "public option" that would be too expensive — triggering a "death spiral" in the healthcare economy;
(b) the "public option" death spiral will be driven by rightwing ideology, not economics (see item "a"); and
(c) the "public option" will still shut out millions of families while leaving private insurers in control. It's a nonstarter.
There could also be a fourth point: (d) the "public option" is racist because it would disproportionally hurt black and brown families. The harm would come from income inequality causing unequal access to a "public option" buy-in. Harm would also come simply from depriving folks of comprehensive universal healthcare.
DEATH PANELS, MEET DEATH SPIRAL.
In item "a," I mentioned a "death spiral." We are ripping this page from the rightwing playbook. Remember "death panels"? A Big Lie, but it lived on everyone's lips and made big political impacts. Even today, people remember this phrase. (2019 marks the tenth anniversary of the "death panels" meme — a newsworthy factoid we could turn to our advantage.)
Glance over the history of "death panels." In the far right's 2009 fight against Obamacare, this term was coined by Sarah Palin, America's version of poisoned Halloween candy. "Death panels" emerged from a false narrative about doctors counseling old people on how to die. It was so devastatingly effective, PolitiFact named it Lie of the Year. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_panel
Note: While we abhor morally bankrupt rightwingers and their lies, we had better learn from these masters of influencing audiences. We should do what works (pragmatism), but tell truth not lies (principle).
I propose that our version of the catchy "death panel" meme should be the "death spiral:" an ideology- and greed-driven dynamic that can collapse the broken US healthcare system like a house of cards. It's not a new idea, only now placed at the center of a specific narrative.
TURNING THE TABLES.
Is this fearmongering? Yep. We're going to flip this rightwing strategy back on the "looters in suits" who are using it to deprive millions of families of the comprehensive healthcare they desperately need. Except in our case we're peddling fear grounded in truth.
The right wing is falsely scaring people away from single-payer Medicare for All. We aim to legitimately scare people away from the public option.