Brow Beat

John Oliver Endorses “Medicare for All”

John Oliver sits at an anchorperson's desk, in front of an image reading "Medicare For All."
HBO

The Democratic primary is in full swing, which means the American public once again gets to choose between a broad array of politicians, each offering their own unique explanation for why life in the United States has to be so shitty, each with their own unique plan to ensure things don’t get less shitty too quickly, lest people who have been making a comfortable living doing things that they should be ashamed of have to find new jobs that aren’t based on cheating sick people—plus Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. That’s the crux of the situation, but a lot of people’s salaries depend upon pretending not to understand it, so to kick off the seventh season of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver walked his audience through just a few of the horrors of the status quo, just a few of the disingenuous bullshit artists who defend it, and just a few of the benefits of a single-payer system like “Medicare for All.” It’s some of the best work he’s done:

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The practical difficulties in building a humane health care system in the United States are obviously going to be enormous, but as Oliver (like everyone else who has ever looked into the matter) makes clear, the system we have now is flat-out evil. We already have one political party dedicated to the proposition that it’s okay to get rich by making other people suffer; the disheartening thing about Democratic primaries is learning, once again, how many people think we need to have two. Ideally, the debate within the Democratic Party would be about the fastest and most practical way to belatedly move the country into the twentieth century, not an endless, smiley-faced bullshit session about whether or not we should bother trying. Ideally, this John Oliver segment would change a few minds, or at the very least slightly raise the number of people who keep an eye on their wallet when pundits and politicians start talking about how important it is to have health care “choice.” Ideally, of course, we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all, because we would have joined the rest of the civilized world sometime in the middle of the last century. But as long as we’re not living in an ideal world, it’s nice to know that Last Week Tonight is back for another season.

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