By: Matt Nielsen

Politics and Pandemics – How the Covid-19 outbreak underlines the need for drastic reform

The Covid-19 pandemic has been as much of a socio-economic disaster as it has been a medical one.  With businesses forcing to close, many people have found themselves not only without predictable income, but have also lost other benefits such as health care.  While the response to Covid-19 has been surprisingly divergent between each political party, it’s becoming clear that fundamental changes to our government could have eased the effects of this 1-in-100-year pandemic event.

With many businesses scaling back their workforce or closing completely, the loss of health insurance has compounded an already dire situation.  Tying insurance coverage to employment has never proven so risky as it has during this pandemic.  With a loss in coverage, many citizens won’t seek the care they need if they fall ill.  This also pushes sick workers to stay working, exposing even more to this deadly virus.  An overhaul to our health care system, moving us away from employer-based insurance, should be a key talking point leading up to this year’s general election.

A sturdy and well-funded safety net could have also eliminated many headaches currently experienced by people waiting for stimulus and unemployment compensation.  Frustrated callers get disconnected when phoning to ask about their missing checks.  Limited funds are available to boost small businesses and provide financial relief to out-of-work folks.  These experiences should be a pivotal part of the Democratic platform, citing success stories in other countries where the economic fallout will be much more limited than here in the U.S. 

The Wisconsin primary election disaster will be the prime example of why vote-by-mail is needed nationwide before we get to the general election in November.  There has long been a struggle to make voting more accessible to blue collar voters, communities of color, and other overlooked minorities.  The dangerous decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Wisconsin election not only actively attempted to suppress votes, but it put lives in danger.  A poll worker in Milwaukee succumbed to Covid only a week after the election and countless others exposed themselves in order to exercise their constitutional right. 

Health Insurance, a financial safety-net, and vote-by-mail:  these three issues should be front and center as we head to November.  There has never been a more pressing or revealing time to push for dramatic yet much needed change.  Striping key components from our government while pushing against modernization have led us towards more disastrous consequences from this global pandemic.  Our Party needs to push for reforms based on what we’ve learned in these extraordinary times, leading our cities, states, and country into the evolving new normal.