Steve Bullock’s Attacks on Vitally-Needed Progressive Policies

Photograph Source: Matt Johnson – CC BY 2.0

“Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.”

—Robert Kennedy

Montana’s Gov. Steve Bullock got his moment on the debate stage with the host of other Democratic presidential hopefuls last week and played his part of the “moderate” to the hilt. But he did so by criticizing the more progressive and forward-thinking candidates, whose policy ideas he claimed were “wish-list economics” that would hand the election to Donald Trump rather than realistic proposals this nation so desperately needs — and which are widely supported — right now.

So what are the “wish-lists” Bullock opposes? Let’s start with his opposition to Medicare for All. Rather than actually taking care of our citizens’ health needs, Bullock supports continuing to pay the bloated health insurance industry that acts as the “middle man” between patients and doctors — and thanks to the current system’s out-of-control costs, places American health care far down in the rankings of industrialized nations.

Apparently Bullock also forgot that Montana’s voters gave Sen. Bernie Sanders, the key architect and tireless proponent of Medicare for All, the primary election victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016 based in large part on Sanders’ progressive platform. Was that just “wish-list economics” when Montana’s voters went to the polls?

Going even further, Bullock baselessly claimed the front-running progressive candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sanders, were mimicking the “repeal and replace” stance that Republicans have taken toward Obamacare. Bullock ignored the fact that Warren and Sanders actually have a plan, while Republicans have yet to put forth even a skeleton of what their new healthcare system would look like, how it would operate, how much it would cost and who would pay for it. If anyone was parroting the Republicans, it was Bullock, who prefers protecting the health insurance industry’s outrageous profits over the universal health care enjoyed by the citizens of so many other countries — including Canada, our neighbors to the north.

Or how about climate change? One might think that the governor of a state that has suffered significant impacts from our rapidly warming world would understand the urgent need to take immediate action to reduce the use of fossil fuels. But no. Bullock posited that the pressing need to wean humanity off fossil fuels was somehow targeting “folks that have spent their whole life powering our country.”

Perhaps he doesn’t understand that there’s a huge difference between stopping the increasingly deleterious effects of coal, oil and gas emissions of climate changing gasses and blaming those who work in the fossil fuel industries. It is, in fact, imperative to face the reality of global warming, and if anyone should be blamed, it’s the corporations like Exxon that realized the impacts of fossil fuels decades ago — and kept that research secret while the world burned. It’s also worth remembering that there was no wave of hatred toward candle makers when light bulbs were invented, or buggy whip makers when automobiles took over the roadways.

Finally, Bullock claimed “everyday Americans can’t wait for a revolution.” But as Robert Kennedy once put it: “The United States was born in revolution and nurtured by struggle.” The “revolution” Bullock fears is in reality an admirable struggle for the progressive policies that will benefit all Americans. Our nation has always been a place where we hope for a better future and have the courage to seek it. It’s a shame Governor Bullock seems to have forgotten the very dreams and “wish-lists” upon which this nation was founded.

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Daily Montanan, where this essay originally appeared.