Health Care In America: Bernie Sanders Channels Tommy Douglas
Scottish-born Saskatchewan Baptist Minister Tommy C. Douglas is widely regarded as the Greatest Canadian and the Father of Canadian Medicare. The office of Premier of that province was the highest office Tommy would ever achieve, from 1944 to 1961, when he stepped down to lead the newly-minted federal New Democratic Party.
He never held the highest office in the country, but what he achieved in Saskatchewan and for the entire country was its most popular, most indispensable government program ever. But his grandson Kiefer became “President of the United States” (on television, anyway). Yes, Jack Bauer and President Thomas Kirkman are both Canadian. No, really. THIS one deserves a birth certificate check, Mr. Trump. Every great politician is known for one big speech and Tommy’s was the masterpiece known as “Mouseland” (video).
“Mouseland was a place where all the little mice lived and played, were born and died. And they lived much the same as you and I do.
They even had a Parliament. And every four years they had an election. Used to walk to the polls and cast their ballots. Some of them even got a ride to the polls. And got a ride for the next four years afterwards too. Just like you and me. And every time on election day all the little mice used to go to the ballot box and they used to elect a government. A government made up of big, fat, black cats.
Now I’m not saying anything against the cats. They were nice fellows. They conducted their government with dignity. They passed good laws–that is, laws that were good for cats. But the laws that were good for cats weren’t very good for mice. One of the laws said that mouseholes had to be big enough so a cat could get his paw in. Another law said that mice could only travel at certain speeds–so that a cat could get his breakfast without too much effort.
All the laws were good laws. For cats. But, oh, they were hard on the mice. And life was getting harder and harder. And when the mice couldn’t put up with it any more, they decided something had to be done about it. So they went en masse to the polls. They voted the black cats out. They put in the white cats.
Now the white cats had put up a terrific campaign. They said: “All that Mouseland needs is more vision.” They said: “The trouble with Mouseland is those round mouseholes we got. If you put us in we’ll establish square mouseholes.” And they did. And the square mouseholes were twice as big as the round mouseholes, and now the cat could get both his paws in. And life was tougher than ever.
And when they couldn’t take that anymore, they voted the white cats out and put the black ones in again. Then they went back to the white cats. Then to the black cats. They even tried half black cats and half white cats. And they called that coalition. They even got one government made up of cats with spots on them: they were cats that tried to make a noise like a mouse but ate like a cat.
You see, my friends, the trouble wasn’t with the colour of the cat. The trouble was that they were cats. And because they were cats, they naturally looked after cats instead of mice.
Presently there came along one little mouse who had an idea. My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea. And he said to the other mice, “Look fellows, why do we keep on electing a government made up of cats? Why don’t we elect a government made up of mice?” “Oh,” they said, “he’s a Bolshevik. Lock him up!” So they put him in jail.
Nothing against Bernie Sanders or his speeches. They just haven’t reached the monumental level of a “Mouseland.”
Granted, Tommy Douglas lived in a very different time, a time where the media was severely limited in its scope and control over the masses compared with what we are faced with today as a society. Canada has also had a very different history from America. Our official independence in 1867 came about without firing a shot.
To say that America contrasts this with a decidedly violent history is an understatement.
The mindset of most Canadians versus the majority of Americans with respect to some of these issues has been and is still vastly different from one another. That’s the challenge for Bernie Sanders. There was no mass media, CNN, MSNBC or Fox News in Tommy Douglas’ time to distract voters from the core issues they were facing. There was no “media narrative.”
After a series of government acts and accords over the 1950s with respect to health care, all provinces were on board by 1961 and in 1966, Tommy’s dream came true with the passing of the Medical Care Act (Medicare). The last major piece of legislation (for those taking a test on this in the coming days and weeks) was in 1984 with the Canada Health Act, which amalgamated Medicare with other previous acts and endeavored to ensure that the public system stayed public and accessible to all Canadians, regardless of ability to pay.
Tommy’s Dream Lives on Through Bernie Sanders
There is no question, based on recent polling, that the majority of Americans want the best, most effective, most efficient system in the world – “medicare-for-all.” It’s just a matter of convincing corrupt politicians that it’s in their best interest or have them primaried out of office. The president’s healthcare proposal was met with abject failure, so this could be the opening Donald Trump needs to improve his disastrous reputation. Even Republicans want Bernie’s healthcare plan. The age of the Red Scare could truly be leaving us, thankfully.