Maybe Voting Before Healthcare?
 
Political scientist Jonathan Bernstein wrote an interesting piece aobut the Medicare for all push. He argued that the skepticism about the plan's exact funding mechanism is kind of beside the point. The goal right now, with Dems out of power, isn't to actually pass a workable bill. The goal is to make the issue a higher priority, so that when Dems are in a position to pass something, Medicare for all is the thing they look to pass. Among other things, this means that left policy wonks will be working on figuring out how to make this policy work as a priority, Democratic actors will jostle to get in front of the cameras talking about it, and so forth. 

Bernstein notes that Medicare for All is in some ways an odd choice for Dems to prioritize right now. He explains:

"By any logic at all, another major overhaul of the health care system  shouldn't be on the Democratic agenda. It's had its turn, rising to the  very top priority the last two times Democrats had unified control of  the federal government, which resulted in one failure in 1993 and the  successful passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Obamacare  still (from the liberal point of view) needs additional legislative  tinkering, but it's been implemented, and it is extremely popular among  Democrats and relatively popular overall.  Meanwhile, other policy areas that were lower on the list in 2009 still  need to be addressed -- and more have emerged since. Advocates within  the party demanding action on climate, income inequality, voting rights,  immigration, infrastructure, campaign finance, and several other issues  should have a strong case for pushing off anything major on health care."

As Bernstein elaborated in a tweet, this means that the real thing threatening Medicare for All isn't centrist establishment hacks who hate helping people. The real threat is from people with other priorities—like climate change or immigration reform or infrastructure. When parties get in power, they only have so much time. You have to prioritize something. If you work on Medicare for All first, immigration reform has to be (at best) second.

I think health care is hugely important, and the ACA falls far short of providing health care to all that need it—and that's not even addressing other huge problems with the health care industry, like the exorbitant, confiscatory prices of prescription drugs. So as a priority, sweeping health care reform isn't bad. Still, I don't think it would be what I'd want to put on the table first.

What I would put on the table first is voting rights. Dems, from the center to the left, have in general treated voting rights as a technical issue, rather than a central political one. That's epitomized by the fact that Obama decided that gerrymandering and voter suppression would be the issue he'd work on...after getting out of office. Dems in general support more voting rights and protest at Republican efforts to limit them, and occasionally (as with Terry McAuliffe's effort to enfranchise felons in Virginia) local pols embrace it as an important priority. But, in general, Democrats—including Sanders' wing of the party—haven't made it a big issue. There hasn't been a big media roll out of a sweeping voting rights platform guaranteeing the right to vote for all, repealing voter registration, and calling for a new VRA, with speeches and presidential wannabes elbowing each other out of the way to stand in front of the camera.

The reason voting rights should be the most important thing—yes, even more important than health care—is that everything, including health care, is dependent on voting rights. The Republicans have been working steadily to disenfranchise poor and black voters with gerrymandering, voter ID laws, closing polling places, and every other tactic they can think of. By doing that, they shift the electorate old, rich and white—which means they shift it to the right. Restricting the franchise means more power for the right; it means the Republican party is further right than it should be; it means the Democratic party is further right than it should be. People talk about the Overton Window, but nothing shifts the politics of the possible more than disenfranchising large groups of voters.

The long term health of the country and the political system depends, in no small part, on the Republican party getting its shit together and setting aside the politics of overt racism and bigotry. The only way to make that happen is to make racism and bigotry electorally painful—and the only way that happens is if racists and bigots are outvoted. The Republicans know that, which is why they try to disenfranchise black people, the poor and the young, who are likely to vote against the politics of old white bigots. The US faces a choice; disenfranchisement and fascism, or democracy. Only by choosing the second can the left ensure Medicaid for all, immigration reform, an end to mass incarceration, and maybe a country that isn't quite so awful.

So, that's why, if it were me, I'd be trying to make voting rights the main thing—yes, even before medicare for all. With voting rights, real change is possible. Without them, I don't think it is.