If you could remove yourself from the nightmare somewhat, one of the funnier threads of Trump and Biden’s first (maybe last?) presidential debate was how Trump wanted to paint his challenger as both a socialist hardliner and so moderate that progressives would never support him. “You’ve just lost the radical left,” the president announced when Biden indicated that he does not back the Green New Deal. In reality, though, you could make the case that the left has grudgingly backed the Democratic nominee, or at least resolved not to attack him so much.
Still, there is a limit to that courtesy. And while some who ardently supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries do erupt with anger at elements of the Biden-Harris platform or messaging, more common by far is a mournful tone — a grieving for what we could have had. With Medicare for All off the table, that sorrow is summed up in a catchphrase: “healthcare pls.”
The “healthcare pls” character, exhausted and decrepit, is a variant of the MS Paint character known as “Wojack.” You may recall his appearance in memes that depict a cheerful woman telling him that it’s time for sexual torture (or something similarly unpleasant), to which he sadly replies, “Yes honey.” He is already beaten, and he knows that to resist would be a waste of what precious little energy he has left.
So it was in the early stages of the 2020 race, when leftists felt pressing issues like health care and climate change were pushed aside for weirdly psychological critiques of Sanders, and so it remains today, when Biden and Harris proudly tout their commitment to fracking, and the main takeaway from the vice presidential debate is that a fly landed on Mike Pence’s head — prompting the Dems to sell a “Truth Over Flies” flyswatter.
The despair is real. Could it sway the government? Perhaps if they were made to see how many of us identify with this despairing, crumpled cartoon figure as we beg for possible improvements to critical infrastructure. Yet his face makes plain that we’ve been asking for this our entire lives, and may well go to our graves unanswered. Even if we don’t get what we’re after — and can barely summon the strength to mention it now and then — it matters that the demand persists. When the fundamental needs of citizens are ignored, someone has to say, however feebly, that our political leadership fails to advocate for the common good, let alone legislate toward it.
Anyway. Regardless of the results on November 3rd, Americans will continue to wait on a functional health-care system. Wouldn’t something like that be nice? Please? Okay, I’ll remind you later.