Most important issue of 2020: climate change or healthcare? | The Tylt
Most important issue of 2020: climate change or healthcare?
Climate change has long been a fringe issue during elections. As reported by Time, even climate leader Al Gore failed to center his campaign around the issue during the 2000 election. In the lead up to the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were not asked about the issue during any of their debates. Yet with numerous natural disasters caused by climate change, the Trump administration's consistent push to roll back climate regulations, and an energized activist movement, many believe climate change will become a defining issue during the 2020 election.
...That’s where the activists come in. A group of young progressives has pushed their elected officials to prioritize climate change and endorse bold solutions. Most notably, the Sunrise Movement, an activist group led by young people, has hosted sit-ins in lawmakers offices and kept the issue in the media’s eye. “We’re pushing folks not just to pay lip service to the Green New Deal or use it as a sexy buzzword but to put some actual substance behind,” says Varshini Prakash, Sunrise’s executive director. The activists want to “ensure that the Green New Deal remains at the top of conversation.”
According to RollCall, many young voters say candidates' plans to deal with climate change will guide their votes in the primaries.
The 2020 elections are still many months away, but 17-year-old Michael Minsk is already following it closely as more candidates enter the race. Eager to vote for the first time next year, the high school junior is looking for a candidate promising bold action on climate change.
“Climate change is definitely one of the issues I will be voting on along with other social and economic problems,” said Minsk, who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. “I am tired of corruption in government that prevents politicians from acting on it, so I want someone that will stand up and make changes.”
...“I want to live in a world — when my generation is older — that is clean and habitable,” said Minsk, the high school junior eager to cast his first vote next year. “I do not want the economic problems it will bring, and certainly do not want to have to contend with natural disasters, sea level rise and high temperatures.”
It's not just activists who are pushing candidates to take hard stances on climate change. Washington governor Jay Inslee's brief foray into the Democratic primary was built entirely around solving climate change. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Inslee says many candidates address climate change as one of many planks in their platform. He believes the issue is important enough that it should be the basis for all of their policies.
His vision, he tells Rolling Stone, is an administration organized around the climate crisis, an entire federal government working in unison to decarbonize the economy and help save the planet. No candidate has his record on the issue, and none of them have said nearly enough about it, he says. “A lot of these candidates want to check the box,” he tells me. But one sentence in their campaign-launch events doesn’t solve this problem. “This has to be the number-one priority of the United States,” he insists. “Every agency has to be on board, and it has to take priority over everything else we do. You have to build a mandate for this during the campaign, and you have to express a willingness to spend your political capital to get this done. I think too many other candidates are going to say, ‘I’m for the Green New Deal, and now I’m done.’ That just doesn’t cut it.”
During the 2018 primary, voters delivered a resounding blow to those who sought to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Per the Atlantic:
Just over two-fifths of voters in the Election Day exit poll conducted by Edison Research cited health care as the most important issue to their vote—far more than the number of voters who picked any other issue—and fully three-fourths of them backed Democrats in House elections. On another question, nearly three-fifths of voters picked Democrats when asked which party would do a better job at protecting patients with preexisting conditions. Those same respondents voted Democratic in House races by a crushing margin of 89 percent to 4 percent.
Health care, most strategists agree, was especially important in helping Democrats claw back some support from the working-class white voters who stampeded to Trump in 2016. In previously unpublished results provided to me by Edison, non-college-educated white women, usually a solidly Republican-leaning group, split nearly evenly when asked which party would do a better job at protecting patients with preexisting conditions. Fully 90 percent of the blue-collar white women who picked Democrats on that question also voted Democratic for the House. Blue-collar men still leaned more toward the GOP, but even 40 percent of them said that Democrats would better protect people with preexisting conditions, and almost four-fifths who felt that way voted Democratic for the House.
At the end of March 2019, the Trump Justice Department filed a legal brief completely reversing its previous stance on protecting the Affordable Care Act. The Justice Department argued the ACA should be found unconstitutional and repealed in its entirety. Vox reports the dramatic about-face is sure to animate millions of voters who depend on the ACA for health coverage.
That would mean an end to the private markets where 15 million Americans buy their coverage, an end to the expansion of Medicaid that covers 15 millions more, and an end to protections for people with preexisting conditions. According to the Urban Institute, if the entire law were eliminated, as the Trump administration is now advocating for, nearly 20 million fewer Americans would have health insurance.
...Polling shows Americans strongly disapprove of how Trump has handled health care as president. And now his record on health care heading into his reelection campaign is even more unambiguous: He and his administration have fought to strip health coverage from millions of Americans and to erode protections for people with preexisting conditions — and their new move in the courts shows they are keeping it up.
Democrats and Republicans alike were quick to rebuke the president and Justice Department. According to the New York Times, Democrats quickly seized on the issue in an attempt to further highlight the differences between each party's platform.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who celebrated her 79th birthday on Tuesday — had already planned to move to change the conversation with the unveiling of the Democrats’ own health care plan on Tuesday. The Democrats’ bill aims to lower health insurance premiums, strengthen protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions and ban the sale of what Democrats call “junk insurance.”
The Justice Department’s move gave the unveiling an urgency that not even she could have anticipated.
“The Republicans did say during the campaign that they weren’t there to undermine the pre-existing condition benefit, and here they are, right now, saying they’re going to strip the whole Affordable Care Act as the law of the land,” Ms. Pelosi told reporters Tuesday, adding, “This is actually an opportunity for us to speak to the American people with clarity.”