News & Events

February 20, 2019
Who you calling a radical?

The other day, an article in the Chicago Tribune touched on former Vice President Biden’s potential 2020 presidential candidacy. The Tribune described Biden as a “moderate” when it came to tackling America’s health care issue. (He hasn’t taken a stand, yet.) That word choice bugged me because it implied that the present Democratic presidential candidates who have said they support some form of universal healthcare, usually described as “Medicare for all,” are not moderate in their views. – And if you’re not moderate, your views must be excessive, extreme. You are a “radical!”

Even news analysts who have established themselves as non-partisan have picked up on the “moderate” classification for any Democrat who stays away from taking a strong stance on the pursuit of progressive ideals. -- This certainly isn’t the first time such word games have been played to the detriment of American progress. I will get to that in a minute.

Actually, to call Joe Biden a “moderate,” assuming today’s meaning of the word, is somewhat unfair. Back in 2007 when Joe was running for President he presented a plan to permit uninsured Americans to buy into an insurance program similar to the health care program used by federal employees and members of Congress. People would pay on a sliding scale based on income. His proposal also allowed people between the ages of 55 and 64 to buy into the Medicare program, with the federal government providing a subsidy to low-income individuals.
True, much of Joe Biden’s plan did depend on the involvement of for-profit insurance companies selling their health care policies to the insured. But suggesting the widening of the Medicare model to include people down to the age of 55 was a big step toward what could have potentially become Medicare for All.

As things turned out, Joe Biden became Vice President and the Obama Administration developed the Affordable Care Act, a public health care breakthrough that nevertheless had some weaknesses which Republican strategists were quick to exploit in our courts. The result has been a crippled system the has unquestionably improved healthcare access for millions of Americans but remains vulnerable to being further weakened by industry pressures and conservative courts. -- And, I think most people agree it is less admired than our Medicare system.

But let’s get back to my earlier reference to how accusations of radicalism in the past have regularly been used as a weapon against progress.

The concept of universal health care in the United States has been around since at least 1943. Universal health insurance was first proposed in that year under FDR. Understandably, World War II pulled everyone’s attention away from that initiative. But soon after the War ended, the new 33rd. President, Harry S. Truman, proposed a “universal national health insurance program.”

In his remarks to Congress, he declared, “Millions of our citizens do not now have a full measure of opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health. Millions do not now have protection or security against the economic effects of sickness. The time has arrived for action to help them attain that opportunity and that protection.”

Truman proposed that every wage earning American pay monthly fees or taxes to cover the cost of all medical expenses in time of illness. The plan also called for a cash balance to be paid to policyholders, in the event of injury or illness, to replace the income those individuals lost. – What a radical guy!

President Truman stated, “Under the plan I suggest, our people would continue to get medical and hospital services just as they do now — on the basis of their own voluntary decisions and choices. Our doctors and hospitals would continue to deal with disease with the same professional freedom as now. There would, however, be this all-important difference: whether or not patients get the services they need would not depend on how much they can afford to pay at the time......What I am recommending is not socialized medicine. Socialized medicine means that all doctors work as employees of government. The American people want no such system. No such system is here proposed.”

Truman’s plan was quickly converted into a Social Security expansion bill and looked like it might become a reality. But immediately the American Medical Association (AMA) capitalized on the nation’s paranoia over the threat of Communism and attacked the bill as “socialized medicine.” (Sound familiar?) They mocked the Truman administration as “followers of the Moscow party line.” The bill stalled.

Harry Truman won reelection and Democrats took control of Congress. But the AMA’s lobbying and advertising efforts, endorsed by more than 1,800 national organizations, including the American Bar Association, the American Legion and the American Farm Bureau Federation ensured defeat of universal health insurance for America at that time.

Americans then waited nearly two decades before President Lyndon Johnson was finally able to sign a bill in 1965 creating Medicare (another socialist scheme decried by Republicans). And then we waited another 45 years before the the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, was signed by President Barack Obama.

As you can see, working toward universal health care is not a new concept, nor is it radical. America has been inching toward it for 75 years. Now it’s possible we could be in the final push before this long-overdue reform becomes an American reality. We’ve already begun to hear accusations from the right of, “Socialism!” “Communism!” “Radicalism!” -- Exactly the same cries Americans heard with each progressive step toward where we are today. Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, does anyone seriously believe we’d be better off without them?

Please think about that the next time you see someone labeled “to the left of moderate” with all that term implies, simply because they believe universal healthcare for America makes sense.

Nels Howard
NTD Member since 1973

New Trier Democrats' Events
Tomorrow Night, February 21, 2019: New Trier Democrats’ Winter Networking Pop-Up

When : Thursday, February 21, 2019 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm
What : Let’s get together and talk politics! New Trier Democrats invite you to join us for drinks, mingling and conversation. Here’s a great opportunity to network with like-minded people in our area and form connections with other Dems and activists. Drinks will be available for purchase. This event is not a fundraiser – It’s just an opportunity to have fun and meet other area Dems as well as some of our local representatives.
Other Events of Interest
Tomorrow, February 21, 2019: Affordable Housing 101 Sessions

When : Thursday, February 21, 2019 from 9:30am to 11:00am
Where : Tuesday, February 19 session will be at McGaw YMCA, 1000 Grove St., Evanston; the Thursday, February 21 session will be at Connections for the Homeless, 2121 Dewey Ave., Evanston
What : Joining Forces for Affordable Housing is offering sessions to learn more about Affordable Housing. From their website: “Are you spending too much of your income on housing? Are you concerned about what more affordable housing might mean for your neighborhood?Do you believe that the lack of affordable housing is causing people to leave our community? Come learn about the causes of the housing crisis and what you can do to advocate for change.”  Register online .
Tomorrow, February 21, 2019: Rally in Support of HR1

When : Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 11:45am
Where : Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s Office, 5533 N. Broadway, Chicago
What : Join  Public Citizen  and the Democratic Coalition for Democracy at IL-9 U.S. House Rep Jan Schakowsky’s Chicago office to support  H.R. 1 . Introduced by House Democrats on January 3rd, the bill is designed to restore the Voting Rights Act, make voter registration easier, and increase voter empowerment, among other goals. Indivisible National has published a  “quick sheet”  on H.R. 1 and how to support it. Bring signs and posters!
Tomorrow Night, February 21, 2019: Brad Schneider Gun Violence Round Table

When : Thursday, February 21, 2019 from 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Where : Patty Turner Center, 375 Elm St., Deerfield
What : This is the third of four sessions in Congressman Brad Schneider’s “New Congress Listening Tour.” Panelists will discuss gun violence prevention and the legislative landscape at the local, state and federal level. Panelists: Mayor Harriet Rosenthal, Village of Deerfield; Alicia Schemel, State Legislative Lead for Mom’s Demand Action; Sara Knizhnik, Organizer at IL Coalition on Handgun Violence. For additional information or to RSVP,  register online .
Tomorrow Night, February 21, 2019: Gun Violence and Youth Activism – A Panel Discussion

When : Thursday, February 21, 2019 from 7:30pm to 9:00pm
Where : Beth Emet The Free Synagogue, 1224 Dempster St., Evanston
What : David Hogg is an American author and student who survived the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14, 2018 and afterward became a gun control advocate and an activist against gun violence in the United States. He is one of twenty founding members of Never Again MSD, a gun control advocacy group led by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) students. In conjunction with his gun control advocacy, he has helped lead several high-profile protests, marches, and boycotts. He has also been a target and scapegoat of several conspiracy theories and right-wing accusations. Hogg will join a panel discussion with local Chicagoland students to discuss gun violence and the role of youth activism to end this epidemic. The panel will be moderated by Nina Vinik, Director, Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform Program at The Joyce Foundation. For more information,  visit their Facebook event page .
This Friday, February 22, 2019: Brad Schneider Immigration Round Table

When : Friday, February 22, 2019 from 2:30pm to 3:30pm
Where : The Community Center, 914 8th St., Waukegan
What : This is the last of four sessions in Congressman Brad Schneider’s “New Congress Listening Tour.”  Panelists will discuss immigration and access to education. Panelists: C. Myra Gaytan-Morales, Ph.D., Assistant Dean for Academic Services & Programs at University Center of Lake County; Ivan Hernandez-Arizmendi, Licensed Personal Banker II at First Midwest, DACA recipient; Jeff Hollenstein, Lead Teacher with the NCCHS Career Pathways Program at North Chicago Community High School; Mary Elena Jones, Founder and Executive Director of HACES. For additional information or to RSVP,  register online .
This Saturday, February 23, 2019: Brad Schneider Political Activation Training

When : Saturday, February 23, 2019 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. Registration at 12:30pm
Where : Lake County Federation of Teachers, 248 Ambrogio Dr., Gurnee
What : Congressman Brad Schneider holds an afternoon of workshops and political training. Come learn from our region’s progressive leaders how to effectively advocate for high quality and affordable health care, a clean environment and gun violence prevention. For additional information or to RSVP,  register online .
Tuesday, February 26, 2019: Indivisible Evanston February Meeting

When : Tuesday, February 26, 2019 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Where : Lorraine G. Morton Civic Center, Parasol Room, 2100 Ridge Ave., Evanston
What : Indivisible Evanston is holding its monthly meeting. They are in the process of nailing down speakers related to their 3 core issues/working groups: Election Integrity, Climate Change, and Healthcare.
Thursday, February 28, 2019: Climate Action – Thinking Globally Acting Locally

When : Thursday, February 28, 2019 from 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Where : Wilmette Public Library, 1242 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette
What : Hear about global efforts to engage local communities in solving the climate crisis. Understand how the Village of Wilmette Environmental and Energy Commission is working toward developing and implementing a comprehensive sustainability plan in accordance with the Greenest Region Compact. Learn how Evanston is lowering its carbon footprint and what this looks like in practice. Hosted by Leagues of Women Voters of Wilmette and Evanston and Go Green Wilmette. For more information or to RSVP,  visit their Facebook event page.
Sunday, March 3, 2019: PFLAG Trans Youth and Family Summit

When : Sunday, March 3, 2019 from 9:00am to 1:30pm
Where : 3080 West Lake Ave., Glenview
What : PFLAG Youth Services Pride Youth Program presents a gathering for trans and gender expansive youth and family members. The event includes workshops, activities and lunch.
Sunday, March 10, 2019: Go Green Wilmette’s Environmental Fair

When : Sunday March 10, 2019 from 12:00pm to 4:00pm
Where : Michigan Shores Club, 911 Michigan Ave., Wilmette
What:  Go Green Wilmette’s premier environmental fair draws more than 1,400 participants from twenty communities. Their theme this year is “Waste Not, Want Not,” and exhibits will help people learn about consuming wisely and wasting less. Explore more than 100 exhibits on: plastic solutions; saving energy; transportation choices; green landscaping; growing your own food; connecting to nature; protecting precious places; green home design; safe home & body products; solar energy; recycling tips and so much more. Find out how schools, park districts, libraries, congregations, village governments and environmental groups are all working together to make our communities and the world a more sustainable place to live. A special feature of the event will be the SkyDay Project, a creative initiative that turns photographs of the sky into engaging and interactive citizen art. Created by renowned artist, and Wilmette resident, Ben Whitehouse, the purpose of this project is to bring people together in support of our one, shared sky. For more information or to volunteer, visit .
Sunday, March 10, 2019: Winnetka Reception for Senator Dick Durbin

When : Sunday, March 10, 2019 from 3:00pm to 5:00pm
Where : Winnetka address provided upon RSVP
What : Bill Brandt and Patrice Bugelas-Brandt are hosting a reception for Senator Dick Durbin, who is running for re-election in 2020. You may click here to make your donation online or you may send your contribution to: Senator Dick Durbin, Durbin Victory Fund, 101 W. Grand, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60654. Please RSVP by March 7th to Nancy Kohn at or 312-527-3667.
Tuesday, March 12, 2019: Wilmette for Marie Newman Fundraiser

When : Tuesday, March 12, 2019 from 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Where : 631 Central Ave., Wilmette
What : Marie Newman's Exploratory Bid is open for the Congressional 2020 race in IL-3. Come hear her vision, and help support adding another Progressive voice to Congress. For more information or to RSVP, please visit this webpage .
Friday, March 15, 2019: ACLU 2019 Annual Lunch

When : Friday, March 15, 2019, 11:00 Registration and Reception; 12:00 to 1:30 Lunch and Program
Where : Hilton Chicago International Ballroom, 720 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
What : The annual Chicago luncheon of The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). This year’s guest speaker is Vanita Gupta, former attorney at the ACLU and NAACP, and leader in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division under President Obama.  Purchase your tickets here .
Saturday, March 30, 2019: Personal PAC’s Spinning for Choice Fundraiser

When : Saturday, March 30, 2019 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Where : SALT Fitness Chicago, 1714 N. Damen Avenue, Chicago
What : Unique and entertaining fitness fundraiser encourages supporters of choice to join fellow spin enthusiasts to protect reproductive rights for the women of Illinois.  Please use this link to register .
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