Sanders: Rethinking How Society Functions Could Be 'Silver Lining' to Pandemic

May 17, 2020

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) on Sunday said that reevaluating how the U.S. government and society function could be the "silver lining" to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

"To tell you the truth, that if there is any silver lining in this midst of this terrible, terrible, and unprecedented moment in American history, in terms of the economy and in terms of the pandemic, it is that maybe we start rethinking some fundamental tenets about the way our government and society work," Sanders said during an interview with ABC's This Week.

Sanders, who championed Medicare for All during his 2016 and 2020 presidential runs, said Americans should ask themselves whether health care is a human right or a benefit that could be lost during unemployment.

The democratic socialist senator has argued that Medicare for All would help combat the coronavirus, previously saying "the United States is at a severe disadvantage because, unlike every other major country on earth, we do not guarantee health care as a human right."

Sanders is not the only progressive to view the pandemic as an opportunity for political reform.

"Every great change that has taken place has come out of a crisis," presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden said earlier this year. "And I think we have an opportunity now to significantly change the mindset of the American people, things they weren't ready to do."

In March, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D., S.C.) said the pandemic provided Democrats "a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision" and California governor Gavin Newsom (D.) has said the coronavirus could "reshape the way we do business and how we govern." Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), a vocal proponent of Sanders's Medicare for All proposal, said she was "thankful" in April that the pandemic demonstrates the "fragility of our system."

Last week, House Democrats unveiled a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill that includes a series of left-wing policies, including provisions for "environmental justice grants" and banking regulations for "minority-owned and women-owned cannabis-related legitimate businesses."