10 awesome things we accomplished that were bigger than Medicare-for-All

bernie-sanders-medicare-for-allBernie Sanders has some pretty great ideas about what America should look like. Medicare-for-all and tuition-free college are two of his biggest proposals. Those ideas have a lot of support and have long been popular with progressives.

However, there are some who don’t think Medicare-for-all and tuition-free college are possible. It’s too hard, they say. It’s too expensive, they say. It will never pass Congress, they say. Where’s that progressive can-do attitude?

We can do it. It is possible. And I can prove it.

Humans—and Americans in particular–have accomplished some amazing feats against the odds and despite overwhelming backlash. For centuries, we have been fighting uphill battles—and winning. Let’s examine a few of them, briefly.

  1. American Independence. The battle for independence started long before the war, which officially began in 1775 and ended in our favor in 1783. This was a decades-long, bloody struggle. Historians not only put the odds against us. John E. Ferling, an expert American Revolution historian, said our victory was “Almost a Miracle.”
  2. Ending slavery. It took an entire century and a civil war to abolish slavery in the United States. Slavery existed in this country from the Declaration of Independence until the Emancipation Proclamation was enforced across the country after the war ended, in 1865. Abolition pitted families against each other and cost us many lives. One of our greatest presidents was assassinated by a Confederate sympathizer. But we didn’t let any of that stop us from doing the right thing.
  3. Women’s suffrage. The suffrage movement is thought to have picked up steam in the 1840’s but it was 1920 before women won the legal right to vote. For 142 years, risking arrest and abuse, women fought for the right to participate in our own government. We still haven’t given up fighting for equality. We still don’t have the right to make our own healthcare decisions or to pay equity.
  4. Civil Rights. As with women, African-Americans have been fighting a long and frightful battle for basic rights. Protestors faced physical assault, arrest, and even death to obtain desegregation and an end to discrimination. As highlighted by a rash of police shootings, we are still fighting this battle as well. We have made great strides but there is work yet to be done to end institutionalized racism. If #BlackLivesMatter is any indication, this is a fight we are still willing and ready to participate in.
  5. Space travel. It was said to be an impossible dream, a waste of time and resources. It was so mind boggling, that conspiracies still exist that claim the moon landing was faked. First, we entered space, escaping the earth’s gravitational pull. Then humans set foot on the moon. Most recently, and again despite the improbability, we landed a probe on Mars. We landed a probe on a planet that lies, at it’s very closest, 35 million miles from Earth. What’s more—you guessed it—we haven’t given up. Human occupation of Mars is very real and in the making.
  6. Modern medicine. Cures for small pox, polio, and other horrific diseases are commonplace. We can transplant just about any human organ–and grow new ones in labs! Soldiers who have lost their legs can walk again with amazingly accurate prosthetics. We can restore hearing to the deaf. We restore life to the clinically dead. Our medical achievements have no end in sight and new discoveries are made practically every day. We are still fighting cancer and other life-shattering diseases, we haven’t give up.
  7. The Internet. It’s still amazing to me. I can communicate with anyone anywhere in the world with Internet access. We can share ideas, keep in touch with loved ones, innovate, create, problem solve, learn, educate, ask, find a job, petition governments, protest wrongful deeds, hold meetings, navigate the earth with maps, watch cat videos…all via the Internet. Google. Need I say more? And we’re not giving it up. The fight for net neutrality—the Internet as we know it—is on.
  8. Transportation. About a century ago, we were still using horses and carriages to get around. Of course, we’ve always had these two digits called legs but they aren’t very efficient for long travel. Take a moment to marvel that you can traverse the country in a matter of mere hours. I can see my sister in Vermont 6-7 hours from now with a major credit card and the click of a mouse. But mass transit wasn’t an easy achievement. By now, we all know the difficulties of the railroad, for example. There were human, economic, and political ramifications to laying tracks across the entire country but we toiled, innovated, and achieved.
  9. Marriage equality. Victory! We have all lived through this so I don’t need to elaborate much here. Suffice it to say this was a long, arduous, and uphill battle against rightwing obstruction and extremist ideology. Some still refuse to accept that LGBT’s have the same rights, but we don’t allow them to ruin it for the rest of us and we’re not about to give up the fight for equality.
  10. Germany’s renewable energy. Okay, Germany is not America. I’m not that terrible at geography. But they are a prime example of humanity’s best achievements, through hard work and demand. Maybe you have already heard, but Germany recently achieved 100% of their power demands through clean, renewable energy. It was not a permanent achievement, they are currently at about 80% renewable energy consistently. But this is a huge deal and indicative of what we can accomplish when we are united on a cause. The cause being saving humankind from global warming, in this case.

People died (and are still) fighting these battles. They have been arrested; physically assaulted; pepper-sprayed and gassed; their lives, homes, and families destroyed. They sacrificed, they toiled, they cried, they raged. But they persevered. We persevered. We have endured. We continue to fight.

We can do this. We can give everyone an equal opportunity for success. We can have Medicare-for-all. We can have tuition-free college. We can have it all. We just have to be willing to fight and yes, sacrifice, for something we want. Bernie Sanders is willing. So are millions of Americans and people around the world whose hopeful eyes are on us. How about you?

What great human achievement inspires you?