The Democratic Healthcare Plank

Healthcare is one of my favorite subjects.  As a compassionate conservative (no, really), I am disappointed that the world’s greatest economy (no, really) should have so many uninsured and underinsured.  I am in favor of providing some type of basic healthcare to everyone, but the devil is in the details.  I can remember when Bill Clinton won in 1992.  Although I did not vote for him, I was sort-of hoping that he would be able to do something with healthcare.

And this leads me to the real topic of this post. Democratic supporters have viewed healthcare reform (such as universal healthcare) as a realistically attainable part of the Democratic platform since Bill Clinton. The circumstances by which this has come to be are, I think, interesting and worth recounting.

H. John Heinz III (John Heinz) was a popular republican senator of Pennsylvania when he died in an unfortunate mid-air collision between a helicopter and the plane that he was in on April 4, 1991.  Incidentally, John Heinz was the husband of Teresa Heinz, now Teresa Heinz Kerry.

With the vacancy in the senate, the Pennsylvania Governor, Robert P. Casey, was required to appoint a replacement until a special election could be held.  After considering Lee Iacocca (who turned down the appointment), Casey selected Harris P. Wofford in May of 1991.

In a special election to be held in November of 1991, Wofford would face Dick Thornburgh, a former governor of Pennsylvania and U.S. Attorney General under Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.  Initially, Thornburgh was so far ahead of Wofford that the election was almost considered a foregone conclusion. However, Wofford turned to little-known Paul Begala and James Carville as campaign managers.  It was during Wofford’s campaign that Carville first coined “It’s the economy, stupid”.  Wofford ran on a platform of universal healthcare and eventually won the special election by 10 points.

The amazing success of Wofford immediately catapulted Begala and Carville to national prominence.  Begala and Carville were then retained by the Clinton campaign as advisor and strategist.  In this capacity, they successfully transferred the issues that resonated with Pennsylvania voters – The Economy Stupid and Healthcare – to the national campaign.

It is interesting to trace the trajectory of Carville, Clinton, and universal healthcare to an unfortunate mid-air collision.  The political talents of Carville are immense, and voters have a healthy appetite for anything that appears to be free.  So I think it certain that universal healthcare would have worked its way into the Democratic platform somewhere along the line, regardless of the unfortunate events in April, 1991.  But when and to what extent?

3 Responses to “The Democratic Healthcare Plank”

  1. fmanja says:

    It seems that you have become a left leaning socialist. Okay maybe that was a bit of hyperbole but healthcare is like education in my eyes. We need a basic level for everyone so we can keep the country strong and kick the sh-t out anyone that tries to bring us down.

  2. Bruce says:

    What can I say? Nobody is perfect. My view of “basic” healthcare may be at odds with what might be contemplated by Obama. I will be sharing thoughts in future posts, I am sure. Thanks for participating.

  3. punkoj says:

    So Bruce, what is your view of ‘basic’ healthcare?

    I don’t believe that healthcare should be limited to ‘basic,’ why should some people be entitled to better care than others?

    Who are the ones we decide have access to ‘basic’ healthcare?

    Who decides this?

    Doesn’t everyone deserve to have the same quality of life? What kind of things do we exclude from ‘basic’ healthcare?

    The ability to get treatment for all of ones illnesses is not a privilege reserved for any one group, it is a right of everyone. We are all human beings after all, we all have the same goals at the end of the day, to be free from suffering. We can’t eliminate all forms of suffering, but we can at least provide everyone the chance to eliminate as much physical and mental suffering as possible, and when we can’t eliminate it, we can at least provide them a chance to mitigate it.