The Case for Incrementalism is the Case for Half a Sandwich.
posted 04 Jul 2018 by Krister Axel
It is clear that a significant segment of the US population is captured, to an alarming degree, by the tough-love notion that to get things done, we must give away half the sandwich.

Like this content? Dropp us a tip.

We have friendly neighbors that we like to go drinking with. This past weekend, I daresay we made a bit of a splash at our local watering hole, hashing out the differences in our opinions. I am a progressive, I am certainly paying attention to the DNC primary candidates, but I am outside the bubble to some degree. I get most of my information from places like The Intercept, and Democracy Now!, and I think that is how I am able to remain undeterred. However, it is clear that a significant segment of the US population is captured, to an alarming degree, by the tough-love notion that to get things done, we must give away half the sandwich. Even though mostly everyone actually wants single-payer healthcare, these self-anointed pillars of reasonableness are here to tell us we can't have it. That is just too much to ask - because corporatism. By disarming progressive policies and watering them down before they have a chance to really succeed, we are handing the right wing demagogues the very message they need to get their masses riled up: that government can't do anything right! We order a meal, they give us half a sandwich. Go on, get yer guns! That just happened in Oregon last week - GOP senators walked out on the legislative session so they could kill the Green bill that was about to pass, while 2nd-amendment groups were threatening state police with the message to 'only send bachelors' as officers were dispatched to find the truant lawmakers. Just another day in Pleasure, California [google 'trump pleasure ca' if you missed the joke]. Oh, wait. It's a good thing we have our reasonable hat on.

It simply boils down to trust. I remember the last primary, and it is clear that the DNC has learned nothing. Hillary is running the primary this time; if you thought Debbie Wasserman Schultz was a corporate apologist, you ain't seen nothing yet. So look at it this way - we got behind your candidate last time. That didn't work out so well. Let's just win - you all seem to make that point all the time. Win at all costs - anyone besides Trump is a victory. Ok, great. Bernie isn't Trump, and he's got the best name recognition, the strongest platform, and the most energized base. Without Bernie, you lose a large part of the movement. Sure, you can have our vote. But we won't be excited. Sanders is the only politician that creates real buzz, is not in the pocket of special interests, and is quite clearly the whole sandwich. You don't need to swallow your pride, or apologize, or anything. Just get out of the way.

So that's the problem with half-a-sandwich thinking: instead of using the opportunity of the Hope & Change moment we had as a nation to take a hard look at the dire state of healthcare, we decided to put a bandaid on the problem, cash in on new Obama-care enrollees to pump up campaign numbers for the re-election of Obama, and lost the opportunity to make any real headway against a for-profit health care industry that puts our numbers as a nation at the bottom of the barrel, year after year. This half-a-sandwich was not only not the good half, it was designed as a mechanism for self-destruction - year after year, Democrats put new lipstick on it, tell us how lucky we are to have Obamacare, and how much that cements the stellar, Nobel-prize winning career of The Best President We'll Ever Have , even as the reality emerges that the real losers of this charade is the same group of people that has been losing ground for 3 decades. We need to do better, and we don't have much time left. If healthcare by incrementalism was any indicator, green revolution by incrementalism and economic justice by incrementalism will be fresh new cluster-fucks that we collectively can't afford to deal with. We need bold action now. Only Bernie can deliver that, which is why corporate America is terrified of him.

The truth is that Obamacare was designed to do the exact same thing that every piece of legislation in recent memory has done: increase short-term positive optics for someone's political constituency, stick it to the middle-class in a way that is opaque and bureaucratic, and move the shells around without pissing off anyone with an income over 6 digits or a few lobbyists on the Hill. I am not an Obama-basher. I think he was in a difficult position, and that much of his praise was warranted - but the reality cannot be ignored: the healthcare system is still broken. The last few decades have shown us all too well that half a sandwich is no sandwich at all.

About the Author


Krister Bjornson Axel

Ogdensburg, New York

Paris, France. Madison, Wisconsin. Los Angeles. Ashland, Oregon. Ottawa. I write music, I write about music, and I write code. See also: photography, prose, podcasting. I have 1 gorgeous wife, 2 amazing kids, and many interests.

Recent Awards: 2020 ND (Photo) Honorable Mention, 2020 Accenti Writing Contest Finalist