Hundreds of Bernie Sanders delegates are planning to revolt against the Democratic platform at the party’s national convention next month over Medicare for All.
On Monday, Politico reported that more than 360 Sanders delegates have signed a pledge to vote against the platform if it does not include a provision expressing support for the universal healthcare proposal. Those behind the pledge argue that Medicare for All is needed now more than ever as the novel coronavirus outbreak has ravaged the country and its economic impact has left more than five million Americans uninsured.
Judith Whitmer, a Sanders delegate from Nevada who helped author the pledge, told Politico:
This pandemic has shown us that our private health insurance system does not work for the American people. There [are] people leaving the hospital now with millions of dollars in medical bills. What are we going to do about that?
The delegates supporting the pledge, although numerous, do not constitute the required majority to fell the platform. It is unclear if many hope the effort will succeed or simply serve as an indicator of how much support Medicare for All, and more broadly a single-payer healthcare program, has among Democrats.
A recent poll found that 69 percent of registered voters, including 88 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of Republicans, supported Medicare for All. Similarly, monthly surveys by the Morning Consult indicate that the healthcare proposal has risen to its highest favorability among voters since January 2019.
Despite the empirical evidence, Democrats are unlikely to campaign on Medicare for All in the upcoming general election. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democrat nominee, is a steadfast opponent of the policy, favoring instead a public option.
Biden, who campaigned for his party’s nomination as an unabashed moderate, has lambasted Medicare for All as unrealistic. Throughout the primaries, the former vice president railed against the proposal, at times even accusing its proponents of lying about Medicare for All’s real financial costs. The vehement attacks generated distrust and rebuke from progressives, with Sanders even alleging that Biden was parroting Republican talking points when discussing the proposal.
Given such attacks, Biden has struggled since winning the nomination to bring the most ardent of Sanders supporters into his camp, even though he has secured the Vermont senator’s endorsement.