Calls to Action: CitizensHealthcare

Manichean Mischief

It’s that time of year when California state legislators rush to introduce bills before a February deadline. Because it’s also an election year, many — including some to whom we give support from time to time — support bad bills that are good for them politically. We will work to defeat those bills but not to defeat those legislators unless alternative candidates from their districts are better bets for us.

Because we don’t need every legislator on every issue, we can occasionally provide legislators room to take positions we don’t like that protect them in their districts. Eg, Miguel Santiago, who represents Assembly District 53 in downtown LA, occasionally takes positions we don’t like that appeal to his district but because he’s the better alternative from that district, we work to defeat the legislation but not Miguel.

Currently you can see this dynamic in action as we work to defeat Assembly Bill 1400, which is falsely advertised as a typical single-payer system that in reality is a giveaway to providers that would be less effective in achieving universal coverage at a reasonable cost than Governor Newsom’s proposal. Because constituents don’t read bills (AB 1400 is 67 pages) and thus don’t know the real nature of the proposal, it’s virtually impossible for a legislator from a progressive district to oppose the bill. If they did, the next campaign would be all about their failure to support single-payer. Hence, our job in defeating AB 1400 is to pull a sufficient number of no votes from a population of legislators not including those who can’t afford to vote no.

When it comes to the state legislature, rarely are members entirely good or evil.*

*There have been exceptions. Eg, a former State Senator is in jail for taking bribes and running guns.