How quickly things change in the midst of a real crisis – the worst of which is yet to come – is telling. Our healthcare system and the federal government have been so slow to react to the pandemic because there is no centralized, publicly accountable authority in the system. It is a hodgepodge collection of for-profit entities who are ultimately accountable to their shareholders, not the public. Only during a genuine public health emergency do the scales seem to fall from so many eyes. The necessity of having a publicly run healthcare system in which every person can get tested and treated regardless of their ability to pay does not just benefit low-income people, it benefits everyone. Viruses do not discriminate based on socioeconomic status.

Earned paid sick leave was seen by the Portland City Council as too radical of an idea last year. Ways of making it easier for renters to stay in their homes have also been consistently quashed at the municipal and state levels. Belatedly, many are coming to realize that those without homes are unable to “shelter in place.” Those are policies that would’ve softened the blow of the onslaught of the coronavirus.

All this points to what progressives have been saying all along – progressive policies aren’t just good ideas that would alleviate hardship for millions – they are public health and safety necessities. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another Great Depression for our elected officials to wake up to that fact.

Grayson Lookner


Candidate in the Maine House District 37 Democratic primary.

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