Bernie Sanders, Medicare for All

Medicare for All is a Christian Policy

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Matthew 25

Rarely in the Bible do we get glimpses of Angry Jesus. But rest assured, he gets salty. As a good Jewish Rabbi in the ancient near east, it was incumbent upon him to profess positive messages about God’s Kingdom, as well as fire off the occasional warning shot.

And, generally speaking, Jesus reserved his starkest warnings (sometimes with whip in hand) when those on the margins–i.e. those struggling in society– were not being cared for.

On this blog, I’ve made a few cases for why Bernie Sanders and his policies are uniquely aligned with the Christian faith. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be providing some context for readers that might want to take a deeper dive into how an intellectually rigorous faith can and should prompt an active, rich theology. One that doesn’t stray from American politics, but rather, engages wholesale.

After all, Jesus was killed for political insurrection. Suggesting Christians sit idly by on the sidelines is not and has never been part of our calling.

“Health care as a human right”

I’m not going to spend time in this piece discussing the cost of Medicare for All. Regardless of what ding it may have in our wallet (and economists are all over the board), the simple math is it will be far cheaper and most effective than the current, broken health insurance system.

The value proposition? Everyone gets health care.

And unless you’re a billionaire, you pay less.

Oh, and …

26,000 people annually stop dying because they’re denied coverage.

Almost 200,000 people annually stop going bankrupt because of illness.

Would that be worth a few extra bucks from your paycheck? For the Christian, specifically, consider this rhetorical question. Because of course it’s worth it. The cost of not providing comfort for the sick is, according to Jesus, to take the fastlane toward the path of destruction.

For Christians, our entire faith is predicated on caring for the poor and sick among us. If we don’t, we effectively render the death of Jesus meaningless.

According to the Sanders plan, Medicare for All provides comprehensive coverage at the point of service, while substantially limiting the out-of-pocket costs for prescription medication. Your doctor doesn’t change. Your hospital doesn’t go away. Nothing on the delivery side changes, because that isn’t the point of Medicare for All.

Only the middle man (Health Insurance Industry) goes away.

This, of course, is a good thing, because something we should all be able to agree on–both the secular and religious among us–is that profiteering on the health and lives of human beings is morally obtuse at best, and inherently evil at worst.

Though many in the media will wrongly claim Medicare for All as “radical” or “socialist,” it’s actually common practice in developed nations. No one would accuse the UK, Canada, or Australia as being “socialist” countries, yet each offers universal healthcare.

In fact, the U.S. is among only a few countries not to offer a nationalized healthcare system. And the bulk of the ones that do not are located in the African continent.

A God-willed “government” program?

Biblically speaking, the case for Medicare for All–which serves more or less as the branding for universal healthcare coverage–is obvious. The Bible is replete with passages that implore (but in most cases demand) the people of God to care for the poor and sick.

And, no, it doesn’t make any caveats through how that care is delivered. In other words, claiming that God wouldn’t achieve his wishes through a modest government tax increase is a non-starter and intellectually dishonest.

In the ancient world, modern democracy hadn’t yet been invented. Because we’re not under a king’s rule (at least not yet), it is the people in our American society that determine elected leaders and set the course for policy decisions. In the day of Jesus, the Jewish people were under the boot heel of a decidedly undemocratic Roman empire. They didn’t get a say.

In 2020, that has (thankfully) changed. We do get a say with how those on the margins are treated. We do get a say with how to best care for the sick and vulnerable among us.

And Medicare for All–a comprehensive, affordable, and efficient way to ensure health care as a human rightisn’t merely an obvious choice. It’s a biblical one, too.

(At least) 3 Reasons Christians Should Vote for Bernie Sanders

“Bernie Sanders” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

In 2016, something very wrong happened.

Eighty-nine percent of evangelical Christians marched into their ballot box on November 8, and pulled the lever for Donald J. Trump. Trump the unapologetic adulterer. Trump the unabashed liar. Trump the proud con-man. Trump, who once famously quipped, “I don’t need God’s forgiveness.”

89 percent.

The Bible makes the claim “Whoever causes the upright to go astray in an evil way, he will fall into his own trap.” (Pr. 28:10). We know that this probably won’t end well for Trump, either in this life or the next. But there still remains the problem of how to fix evangelical Christianity. 89 percent of it, to be precise.

Regardless of the messy history that brought us to this point, we’re now in 2020 and evangelical Christians will have the opportunity to right the ship–to choose, finally, the narrow gate. It appears, in a logic that probably runs contrary to every instinct of evangelical Christians, that the best choice is Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.

3. Health care as a human right

Sanders is probably most known for what many deem “radical” proposals, chief among them “Medicare-for-All.” Depending on what media you digest, this is either the first step toward the downward spiral of socialism, or an exhaustively belated answer to the healthcare crises in America. The truth is much closer to the latter.

Medicare-for-All doesn’t get rid of doctors, nurses, or services at a hospital. Rather, it seeks to end the profiteering of the health insurance industry. According to the National Institutes of Health, over 26,000 Americans die every year due to the lack of adequate health care coverage. That number, of course, doesn’t take into account those who lose their life savings due to an illness. Meanwhile, as we get collectively get sick and die, health insurance companies are Scrooge McDucking every night into a pool of record profits.

That, obviously, is a problem. One that seems on the surface to be antithetical to the way of Jesus–because it is.

As Jesus of Nazareth traveled through the ancient near east, he performed many miracles, and primary among them was healing the sick. Later, he commissioned his disciples (and yes, that includes you and me) to do the same. Even the first Christians were notorious for caring for the sick, even if it cost them their lives.

In 2020, that just means we have to pay more in taxes.

Yes, there are costs to health care. It probably means we’ll all pay a bit more from our paycheck, but for most of us, it wouldn’t even be noticeable–especially when you remove the premiums that we currently pay into the health insurance provider. And though many might gripe about a “government-run” program, the truth is that we’d be able to drop the bureaucratic overhead of an entirely convoluted health insurance industry. Ever battle with them over paying a bill? Never again.

Medicare-for-All would be simple, streamlined health care delivery: you simply show up with your Medicare-for-All card, receive treatment, and go home.

2. Caring for God’s creation

In this day and age, evangelical Christians need an intellectually rigorous faith. So denying the very real, obvious, and frightening prospect of climate change is to live in opposition to our Creator while simultaneously denying the Genesis mandate of caring for God’s creation.

Unfortunately, many evangelical Christians are manipulated–often unbeknownst to them–by a media bias that is funded in part through Big Oil. That sad influence carries over into elections, where government representatives are wined and dined (and donated to) by lobbyists who hope to maintain the status quo, damn the long-term consequences.

The support of Bernie Sanders, or at the very least his policies, is paramount here: Sanders wants to get the disruptive and toxic allure of money out of politics. As one of the (very) few politicians to have never taken money from wealthy campaign contributors, his principles line up fairly well with acknowledging the reality of climate change, listening to scientists, and needing to address through aggressive policies.

Want to ensure a healthy planet for your kids and grandkids? Vote for Bernie Sanders

The Australian fires are not a one-off event. Nor the continued catastrophic damage occurring all over the world in the form of droughts, hurricanes, the warming of arctic, and other global phenomena that are attributable to man-made climate change. We need to act. And as Christians, even more so than the secular world, we bear responsibility to act.

1. Caring for the least

Imagine you’re sitting before Christ at the Sermon on the Mount. Christ is delivering the beatitudes, and as he makes you and everyone else more and more uncomfortable (it was kind of his thing), a wealthy local stands up and shouts back, “Well … well, maybe they shouldn’t come here illegally in the FIRST place!”

Jesus didn’t lose his temper often, but I have to imagine this would have caused a few nearby tables to be overturned.

Caring for the refugee and the immigrant doesn’t have strings attached. It can’t. For the secular among us? Perhaps. But for the Christian, we’re held to a much, much higher standard. For example, locking children in cages at the border? There’s pretty explicit warnings in the bible against harming children. And no, Jesus makes no provisions for local, state, or federal laws.

Bernie Sanders, among many other Democrats (and even some Republicans!), has long recognized the need to address immigration in the United States. And though it remains true that borders are a necessity for national safety, there are humane, safe, and thoughtful ways to proceed that don’t involve separating children from their parents, and then tossing them into cages.

Outside of these three reasons, there’s a litany of others that deserve as much mention: providing universal childcare, and reforming a criminal justice system that targets those on the margins, are of critical importance with strong, biblical cases behind each.

Regardless, in 2020, evangelical Christians can no longer use ignorance as an excuse to support Donald Trump. He’s shown his cards, and it’s without debate that he’s an evil, thoughtless, and yes, godless man, who is more interested in provocation than forgiveness. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, is running a Presidential campaign not focused on himself, but rather, the least among us. That’s a message any Christian could get behind.

Bernie Sanders at Rally

The Gospel according to Bernie: The Christian Case for Bernie Sanders

When Jesus heard that the people of Capernaum were without water, he and the disciples traveled to the town. There they proclaimed the poor and thirsty would be saved upon hearing the good news, and the town’s well began to bring forth fresh water.

The biblical account of Jesus and his disciples replenishing a town’s water is one that is consistently preached, a stark reminder to modern Christians of their call to care for one’s neighbor.

At least, it would if it had actually happened.

In truth, that was Bernie Sanders (and his campaign) that heard of a town’s struggle for clean water, not Jesus. And it wasn’t Capernaum. It was Denmark, South Carolina. And he most certainly returned with several hundred cases of clean water for residents in need.

Now, no one is suggesting Bernie Sanders is the reincarnated Christ, though both were prominent Jews (and a consistent thorn in the side of the established order). Rather, I’m going to lay out several reasons why Christians should (and reasonably can) consider Bernie Sanders in the 2020 Presidential election, and how the Jesus of Nazareth and Bernie from Brooklyn have guiding principles that are more aligned than you might think.

To start, it’s important to acknowledge that American Christianity is in a bad spot at the moment. Evangelicals almost universally supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election, thereby ceding any remaining moral high ground, and jeopardizing the faith’s legitimacy to anyone with ears to hear. The youth, for example, are fleeing the faith in droves, most citing hypocrisy (see: duh) among their primary reasons for ditching the pew. Basic math suggests that without fresh faces taking weekly communion, it’s a matter of when, not if Christianity will die off.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

First, let’s dispatch with any pretense: the level of cognitive dissonance necessary to claim allegiance to Donald Trump and Jesus is enough to put anyone in a coma. You can’t do it.

Jesus didn’t grab the woman who committed adultery by the pussy, he defended her.

Jesus didn’t mock the sick and disabled, he healed them.

And finally, the desperate and, frankly, disingenuous “But Trump’s pro-life!” defense never had any credibility in the first place.

So where does that leave us? Christians in the United States need to drop Trump like the bad habit he is, and get their groove back. Which brings us to one of the key reasons that Christians should support Bernie Sanders …

The Youth Dig Him

Reaching (and re-engaging) the youth isn’t pandering, it’s a hell of a benefit. Bernie has the most support of young voters in America by wide margins. Yes, you read that right. The white-haired, froggy septuagenarian is more popular with the kids than vaping.

Bernie’s appeal is his authenticity. Regardless of whether or not you like his politics, he firmly believes in everything he says. In fact, a quick YouTube search reveals he’s been saying the same thing for the better part of 30 years.

In a world where the youth can see directly through the onslaught of bullshit marketing (and, by association, politics), Bernie is a bastion of the genuine. That should mean something to all of us.

Interestingly, most biblical scholars assert the disciples of Jesus to have been under the age of 18. One moment, they were fishing. The next, changing the world.

Sometimes the kids are OK.

Healing the Sick

Bernie’s hallmark policy pitch is Medicare-for-All, or as Fox News might have misled you to believe, “Socialist-Death-Chambers … For-All.” But Sanders’ passionate defense of the plan is fairly straightforward: healthcare is a human right. In other words, human beings deserve to be taken care of, regardless of whether or not they can pay for it.

It isn’t difficult to wonder where Jesus would have landed on the issue.

This one tends to stumble conservative Christians, because though healing the sick is very much in line with orthodox Christianity, it conflicts directly with Republican talking points. If Jesus was a proponent of healing the sick, shouldn’t we be as well?

The answer is of course we should.

Even if it costs us more in taxes.

Because the family-you-don’t-know avoiding bankruptcy due to cancer is, for a Christian, more important than the family-you-do-know splurging on an all-inclusive trip to the Caribbean.

Yes, friends, sacrificing some of the pleasures in this life is part of the Christian walk.

Caring for Creation (i.e. Climate Change)

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Genesis 2:15


You shall not pollute the land in which you live…. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the Israelites.

Numbers 35:33-34

There’s dozens more. Although you probably won’t see it on Fox News, or hear about it from Rush Limbaugh, caring for creation is very much a Christian calling.

And right now, God’s creation is screaming for help.

In our post-truth world, the agenda of those on the far right–much of it paid for by Big Oil–dismiss the objective, observable and verifiable scientific facts that the earth’s climate is changing rapidly and we are responsible.

As the earth wilts around us, it’s an act of self-sabotage and utter insanity that the human population isn’t rallying together around this common cause.

Perhaps the Christian community can lead the way?

Wind turbines are part of the Green New Deal's efforts on renewable energy.

The Green New Deal, legislation sponsored by Bernie, seeks to address the ills cast upon the earth by one of the world’s worst polluters: us. With time literally running out, the Green New Deal is indelibly and inarguably a Christian response to the havoc wreaked by humans on the environment.

Returning Power to the People

The mantra of the Bernie Sanders campaign is “Not Me, Us.” His deference to the people, and not his own political ambition, is what makes him both unique and revered.

In the bible, Jesus didn’t make it about himself. From his designation of the first apostles, to the Great Commission, Jesus generally saw the fulfillment of his work–upon his sacrificial death–to be ultimately carried out by those who understood “Kingdom Come” meant there would be tough work ahead.

A community of people would be necessary to ward against the abusive powers of a tyrannical regime, and collaborate to solve pressing issues.

Like healing the sick.

For many, this sounds like the dreaded ‘S’ word: socialism. For others, it sounds like a properly functioning democracy.

Voiding The Unholy Matrimony

Look, I get it.

For many Christians, Bernie Sanders has been painted with the socialist brush so often that it may seem counterintuitive–if not comical–to suggest he (let alone any Democrat) could ever offer the Christian faith some sort of panacea in its waning moments. But once you accept the reality that syncretism–that unholy matrimony of religion and conservative politics–has for generations undermined the Christian faith, it isn’t a giant leap to see the fruit of Christ in the actions of Bernie and his supporters. Regardless of whether or not they identify as Christians.

For those of us who do identify as Christian, myself included, we know we’re going to be held responsible for our actions in this life. After all, loving our neighbor was never optional. To quote pastor Brian Zhand, “As Jesus preached the arrival of the kingdom of God he would frequently emphasize the revolutionary character of God’s reign by saying things like, ‘the last will be first and the first last.’ How does Jesus’ first-last aphorism strike you? I don’t know about you, but it makes this modern day Roman a bit nervous.”

There are problems all around us. And it’s ever-too-easy to confide in the conservative or liberal echo chamber, and point (and yell) in the other direction. But that excuse isn’t going to fly as a Christian. The bar is infinitely higher.

The problems of the day can be solved, even led, by Christians. If only we’re willing to look for examples in places we might not have previously considered.