Despite losing reelection in November after running on a fervently anti-Medicare for All platform, outgoing Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) confidently declared during a CNN interview on Friday that the bold and increasingly popular solution to America’s healthcare crisis does not inspire voters in states like Indiana.
“When you talk ‘Medicare for All’… you start losing the people in my state,” Donnelly said. “The talk on the coasts just doesn’t get it done in the middle.”
The notion that an ambitious left-wing platform only resonates “on the coasts” and is not electorally viable in more conservative states has become a common trope among “moderate” Democrats, but progressives were quick to push back on Donnelly’s evidence-free claim, noting that Medicare for All has high levels of support in Indiana and throughout the Midwest.
“Given that Sen. Donnelly lost saying stuff like this, perhaps the lesson is the opposite—Indianans don’t want a Democrat who, like Republicans, opposes good policy,” argued Ben Spielberg, co-founder of 34justice, in a tweet on Saturday.
According to the progressive policy shop Data for Progress and the Kaiser Family Foundation, Medicare for All polls at 55 percent support in Indiana—and many were quick to point to this data in response to Donnelly’s remarks.
As Warren Gunnels, policy director for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), pointed out, Donnelly ran a campaign ad attacking Medicare for All and the “radical left” while expressing support for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall—and he lost reelection.
By contrast, Gunnels noted, Sanders campaigned on Medicare for All in Indiana during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary and won, demonstrating that voters in the Midwest are open to single-payer healthcare and other bold progressive policies.
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“Hearing Democrats like Joe Donnelly talk about Medicare for All being ‘too extreme’ for their constituents have clearly never lived a day in their life wondering if they’ll have access to the medical care they need for themselves or their loved ones,” wrote Alec Uebersohn, a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley. “The true radicals are those who think the current status quo, or anything close to it, is acceptable. Or that we should settle for it. Or that change is ‘unrealistic.'”
“Joe Donnelly and Claire McCaskill, two right-wing corporate Democrats who lost, are now hilariously lecturing the left about how to win without a hint of self awareness.”
—Kyle Kulinski, Secular Talk
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