The ruling elite has taken, over the years, great pains to stigmatize the word communism, deliberately associating it with rapacious world conquest, gulag, tyranny etc; and to fold socialism neatly in with the same knee-jerk associations. When a proposal characterized by sharing and compassion arises it can thus be labeled “socialist”! – with an accusing exclamation point and thus be discredited. So successful was this campaign that the same forces turned their skills to the word Liberal, with nearly the same results.
Social Security and Medicare somehow slipped through the system and are very popular programs, so calling them “socialist” could backfire. There is the danger that people might come to the unwelcome conclusion, “oh, maybe socialism isn’t so bad then.” Can’t risk that so these programs are attacked in subtler ways, saving the stigmatized ammunition for expansion of these programs, such as medicare for all or new programs aimed to help the general population, as opposed to the affluent. Apparently when I wasn’t looking medicare was saddled with co-pays, limits to coverage, Plans B. , C. and other complications; and medical care such as prescription drugs and dental were eliminated or shall we say, assigned to the profit-making sector. No doubt the lobbyists were out in force.
The recent health care debate is instructive. Pundits in all seriousness were (are) calling the President a socialist, and they are loudly parroted by storm-trooper devotees. This of the man who appointed Larry Summers, capitalist par excellence, and a high-ranking member of the cabal who dismantled the regulations which consequently were not there to stem or even slow the recent flood of economic blood-letting – appointed this extreme incompetent or criminal or both, Economic Advisor. Actually, incompetent is not accurate since the intent is always to transfer yet more wealth to the already wealthy and that was accomplished in spades. There were probably losers in the exulted class also but hey, it’s dog eat Darwin, survival of the fittest.
The national healthcare system, tested and proven quite sound in Western Europe, Canada, Australia and most of the other industrialized countries, can hardly be mentioned here in high political circles, nor in the mainstream media, without derision and outright lies, except by the few hardy souls who have taken their role as representatives of the people seriously. I watched one of the Democratic Party presidential candidate debates whose subject was health care and dispiritedly watched them, candidates and media, avoid even mentioning single payer in two hours. This of course was after Dennis Kucinich had withdrawn from the race, out of money, marginalized by a system that is fanatically devoted to elite rule, all the while posturing the pretense that democracy and freedom are its raison d’etre.
As others have pointed out, single payer is seen in elite circles and thus in their media, as not “politically viable”. The fact that polls show healthy public support for such a plan suggests that it isn’t the public that makes something politically viable. The obvious decisive factor is corporations, in this case insurance companies with their large war chests of campaign contributions and capacity to attack those it considers a threat to their profits. Other corporations in solidarity oppose medicare-for-all, despite the savings they might garner if health insurance responsibilities were taken from them. The obvious conclusion is that what they oppose is any program that benefits the general population. Just as the U.S. will attack or otherwise attempt to undermine foreign governments that pursue policies aimed to serve their people rather than multi-national corporations, just so will U.S. corporate elites attack politicians who have the effrontery to do the same here.