Changing your mind is a good thing: Advice for Elizabeth Warren

Dear Senator Warren:

I admire your campaign: your policy positions, your spirit, and your insistence on taking the high ground, even as others begin to dig into the dirt.  I don’t worry about the electability question.  It seems to me that, as people grow accustomed to you, as they hear your story and begin to identify more with it, they will vote for you.  Besides, it is vital to lead according to principle, policy and character, and not to primarily follow imagined pathways of voter preference.

I do have one suggestion, though, and I think it will greatly increase the possibility of victory, which, as we all know, is essential.  Trump must be defeated.  I believe that you’d have a much better chance for the presidency if you switched from a single payer health care system to a program that offers both universal coverage and greater choice.  Not necessarily because that is the very best plan but because it seems to be what the American people want.

You can and should say that you still believe that a single payer system is the most effective, efficient and affordable way to deliver health services.  Having affirmed your analysis and values, you now say that you have listened to the American people—those whose choices are paramount—and, so long as every person in this country is covered, you can accept the will of the majority if, when you are president, Congress endorses a plan that combines public and private health care coverage. 

Here’s my reasoning.  First, the objective is more important than the strategy by which you achieve it.  The objective is effective, affordable coverage for all in a way that people accept. Why not be open to any strategy that reflects your objective and gives you the best possibility of both election and positive, if imperfect, legislative action?

Second, this is an opportunity to affirm the will of the people.  That stance moves you further from criticism that you are an Eastern elitist with no feeling for the popular pulse—or compassion for how “regular” people see things.

Third, it is important to learn and to adapt to circumstances, and to be public about your learning.  FDR practiced this approach to great advantage.  He’d try one thing, see if it worked, and set about discovering how it worked and how to make it work better. If the innovative program didn’t work, he’d try something new.  He was an experimenter at a time when the answers weren’t so clear — like now.

Fourth, it is vital to establish your right to change.  I know that change has become taboo in American politics, that it is considered hypocrisy to begin in one place and end in another.  I know that you will be called a hypocrite or weak.  But you, the working class Oklahoma kid who rose to academic and political prominence, the young Republican who, with time and education, saw the Democratic light—you, of all people, know about change and can say how life-affirming adaptation to new circumstances can be.

Fifth, once elected, you will have a mighty struggle convincing Congress that any health care plan that covers every resident of the United States is a viable idea.  You will be accused of being a socialist, a spendthrift, a starry eyed idealist, and lots more.  You will need to be flexible in negotiations.  All great presidents, from Lincoln to FDR to Lyndon Johnson (before he got caught up in Vietnam) have been great negotiators.  Why not indicate ahead of time that you are so inclined?

That’s it.  I believe that the main policy issue that may currently stand in the way of your election is health care—though there will be a need for more flexibility over time.  Make this change and I think you will be seen as the Champion of the American People — and make us all proud.




17 thoughts on “Changing your mind is a good thing: Advice for Elizabeth Warren”

  1. Barry, this is so well said and I hope it goes directly to her as well as all of us in the choir.
    Thanks for taking the time to say what so many of us just think about.


    1. Thank you, Andrea. I’d like nothing better than to keep sharing my thoughts which, as you say, represent a pretty broad spectrum of our society. There are more of us than THEY think.


  2. Maybe you have hit spot on about my doubts with Elizabeth Warren, and “I have a plan for that”. She seems very dogmatic and inflexible when it comes to stating her positions. I think the public and the lawmaking machinery will require more gradual changes that afford the public a chance to experience the benefits that will accrue to a new reality.


    1. No doubt she needs to both be and to seem more flexible. I’d love her to more fully embrace an FDR type stance: the times are tough; we don’t know everything; but we’ll study and experiment until we get it right–or, at least, far more right than it is now.


  3. I like his thinking and reasoning… I’ve wondered why she sticks to only ONE health Care plan…I too believe that if I want to continue with what I have then I should be allowed to do that. Change is difficult for most of us… Those who have had no insurance just want coverage.. Period !!! I too believe she will will more people to her if she does what he suggests. I didn’t use to like her at all! I’ve changed in the last few months and would definitely vote for her is she wins the primary…. Again, Donald Duck would get my vote if he were the only candidate!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like your thinking, Jackie. Like you, I’ve come to like EW more over time. I always liked her ideas–most of them, anyway, and that’s the best I’d be with any candidate–but I’ve also come to believe that her sincerity, authenticity, energy, and common sense support for the great majority of Americans is gradually bringing some of the doubters to her side.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. In the 1950’s, when I was in high school, I helped to create a mock political convention for other teenagers on Long Island. We disliked the regular candidates and voted for Pooh instead. Certainly he’d be superior to Trump.


  4. I think you grasp the essentials of both Warren’s appeal and her seeming inflexibility. I ultimately want single-payer for our country. But Warren could propose something that Amy Klobuchar mentioned during the most recent debate: Strengthen Obamacare and work-provided coverage for a period of, say, 4 years. During this interim period, Warren can gradually show most Americans how a single-payer system would ultimately solve some deep-seated problems with our medical insurance system and work in our favor.

    I agree that this entire post needed to get a response from the Democratic Committee. How about sharing it with Tom Perez and the other “higher-ups” in the party? Also, Warren likely has a team working on her campaign that you can contact.

    Thanks for another uplifting post.


    1. No doubt about it: a flexible plan, implemented over time is the only thing that will work now.

      I would love Tom Perez to see it. I’d love for Elizabeth Warren to see it but don’t know how to do that.


  5. I don’t really understand the issues in the health care debate, since I don’t live in your country. But I have followed Elizabeth Warren with great interest, and wrote a blog post about her last spring. She has certainly caught my imagination! And I love that she sticks to her principles, although in this case, your argument sounds so reasonable, that I believe, as you do, that she should be flexible on this. Great post, Barry!


  6. Agreed , Barry. I just shared on Facebook tagging her. I hope someone in her campaign will see it and hope more of your followers will share it.


    1. Thanks for trying to pass it along. I would love Warren’s campaign to pick it up–period. I’d also love to speak with them. Probably a fantasy but it’s hard not to yearn to make a difference in these political waters.


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