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.