Performing is Not Acting: Democratic Debates, Healthcare, and Neglect
PERFORMATIVE POLITICS AND THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
It is no secret that the voting coalition which supports the Democratic Party is constituted of ethnic minorities, low-income folk, and college-educated individuals, including much of academia. And with such a broad array of backgrounds, many times Democratic candidates may find themselves trying to appeal to these various groups, vying for power through promises and emotionally-charged rhetoric.
Such as what occurred Wednesday night, when O’Rourke evaded his question entirely and proceeded to speak in Spanish (Booker proceeded to do the same), along with De Blasio uncomfortably using his son as a token to prove he is an ally to the Black Community. .
These are, to be frank, performances for their constituents to vote for them in the primaries. And of course one must incorporate emotional appeals during a campaign to win the hearts of many; however, when many of these candidates fail to effectively construct and share their policy plans to actually help their constituents, it comes off as terribly disingenuous.
And this is most poignant for the issue that is consistently at the forefront of every American’s mind: healthcare.
HEALTHCARE: COMBATTING UNDERLYING RACIST SOCIETAL STRUCTURES
When we discuss healthcare and the private insurance model, we often focus upon income inequality and class divisions within our society. After all, wealth is health in America. But if we begin to dissect this issue in a more shrewd way, we discover the many intricacies found within this debate.
As we analyze income across race, we see how “blacks at the 90th percentile of their distribution earned 68% as much as whites at their 90th percentile” (Pew), along with “at the high end of the income distribution, Hispanics earned 65% as much as whites in 2016” (Pew). This did not occur for Asians at the higher percentiles, however, when analyzing the lower levels, Asians were found to have “earned 17% less” than whites (Pew).
This can be attributed to generational wealth gaps between race, particularly for Black Americans, where many past policies have inhibited many generations from generating wealth. (housing discrimination in particular). Asians and Hispanics also face a unique challenge, as there are many skews to their income statistics due to the high prevalence of immigrants providing a new array of barriers of how to establish oneself in a new nation.
And all of this corresponds well with healthcare coverage in our nation, with Pre-Affordable Care Act (2013) uninsured rates for each respective group being 30% for AIAN (American Indians and Alaskan Natives), 30% for Hispanics, 19% for African Americans, 18% for NHOPI (Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders), 16% for Asians, and 12% for Whites (KFF).
And since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we have seen these rates drop down considerably, as seen in the graph above. It is a testament to how expanding healthcare and reducing its cost systematically empowers minorities in a unique way. And with this information, one sees how healthcare remains a key driver in societal progression for ethnic groups. However, the ACA is still not enough, with disparities still present.
Healthcare thus must be analyzed from many angles to understand not only the healthcare outcomes in our nation, but socioeconomic and life outcomes as a whole, which many minorities have been unjustly barred from achieving due to the intersections of race, income, and healthcare coverage; so when candidates discuss Medicare-for-All, understand the greater discussion at hand which deals with racial inequality, and not some policy which is used to pander for votes.
AYANA, EMPOWERMENT, AND CHANGE
So as we reflect upon the healthcare debate, we must ask ourselves if the candidates actually understand the gravity of the topic at hand. This topic transcends many areas of their constituents’ livelihoods and it should be an imperative to provide them what will advance them in the most effective, proactive way.
Healthcare disparities are a microcosm to a grander problem in this nation: racial inequality. With its foundation in xenophobic and racist policies of the past, which many families still have not been able to escape their lasting impacts, healthcare disparities give us insight of what our society must improve.
Improving and expanding healthcare coverage is not just for ethics, economics, or health outcomes for Americans, but beginning to address the structures in place which have inhibited ethnic minorities.
We at AYANA know of these disparities; it is the very motivation of our company’s founding. We know of the stigma, cost, and lack of cultural competency within our therapy sector (a growing sector within the healthcare sector as a whole), which is partly due to how the system is set up.
When we expand healthcare coverage, we incentive the need to hire more providers from ethnic backgrounds, which further spurs greater seeking from ethnic patients. If the government cannot provide this very access, AYANA seeks to fill this role.
We do not pander to our fellow clients; this company is by and for the people and collective community. We need this, just as much as our clients. And maybe it is that disconnect from their constituents which has doomed candidates to simply perform, and not act.