The Red-Brownism of “March for Medicare for All”

Those who claim to support good things do not always have good intentions, which fascists and conspiracy theorists exploit.

Healthcare in the United States is undeniably deeply broken. I know this all too well myself, writing at this very moment after almost a year of delays to much-needed surgery. Costs are surging, people are going bankrupt, insurance is — while reigned in somewhat from Obamacare — still inordinately difficult to deal with, and the end result is a lot of preventable suffering, disease, and death. However, bad actors will, like with anything, seek to exploit attempts at solving this problem for their own gain.

Medicare for All, while unlikely to pass Congress any time soon, is certainly a great idea — everyone would essentially get government-provided healthcare coverage that would be free at the point of use. There are no copays or deductibles — it’s entirely funded through government revenue like taxes. You could see a doctor without paying a dime — at least of your after-tax income. Overall, though, this would likely significantly reduce the financial burden of healthcare. As a trans person, given the long wait times in systems like the NHS in the UK, I would want to ensure our needs are adequately covered, but the idea of the government giving everyone healthcare is one I support.

However, tomorrow there is an event titled, “March for Medicare for All,” which has hyped itself on social media for many weeks prior and will be spread through numerous cities. Various activists are speaking at the different marches, and that is where this nationwide march starts to raise serious concerns. Many of these people are red-brownists — people who leverage leftists for fascist aims by capitalizing on anti-establishment sentiment.

There is certainly much to bemoan about the establishment in the United States, but it is also the dam that separates us from the dangerous torrent of reactionary tendencies in the country like white supremacy and queerphobia. The things that gave us Trump. It is not that liberalism is perfect or that we should not push liberals to do better — much to the contrary, we should. However, be wary of anyone who has you tearing down that which they lack viable plans to rebuild, because the wrong people will exploit the power vacuum.

The Los Angeles event will feature Jimmy Dore, a YouTube comedian known for peddling in conspiracy theories who has routinely gone on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show to have friendly chats. In particular, he has a history of supporting the debunked claims that the fascist tyrant in Syria, Bashar Al-Assad, a man responsible for at least a half-million deaths, was framed for chemical weapons use. Today, the Los Angeles event also announced the addition of Fiorella Isabel, a woman who, though ostensibly a Medicare for All supporter, is an outspoken anti-vaxxer who pushes other conspiracy theories at times as well.

The Washington D.C. event features Lee Camp, a prominent personality on RT, the Russian state media channel known for its rampant red-brownist slant and the same sort of pro-Assad propaganda pushed by Dore. Much of what Camp says is sensible and credible, but that makes it easier to lend credibility to actual disinformation and propaganda. That event will also feature Paula Jean Swearingen, who recently repeatedly insisted on Twitter a food service worker was not actually poor because the leftovers they had to survive on due to unlivable wages came from catered parties.

Some decry taking issue with such speakers as “purity politics,” but, when you let those with blatant ulterior motives represent your movement, you effectively let your movement be hijacked by them. Dore, Isabel, and Camp are all prominent social media conspiracy theorists. This march is unlikely to lead to Medicare for All passing, but it will give them clout and attention. A common saying on the internet is “don’t feed the trolls.” Don’t feed the conspiracy theorists either — especially the ones who go on Tucker Carlson.

The march’s level of vetting of speakers is so poor that they, at one point, briefly announced — before retracting — Matthew Heimbach as a speaker at an event in Indiana. Heimbach is a known white supremacist and a major player in the violent “Unite the Right” night in 2017 in Charlottesville. Additionally, he has called often himself a “NazBol,” an ideology which is open about its red-brownist aims, itself an intentional hybrid between the right-wing Nazi and left-wing Soviet authoritarianism.

Anti-red-brownism is not purity, it is anti-fascism. Not everyone who perpetuates it is conscious of it, but that does not make their presence any less dangerous. The intentions of these people are not irrelevant, but they are greatly outweighed by the massive negative impact they have — impact that can grow when they show up at events where they can capitalize off of anti-establishment sentiment to grow their audience. Do not let them. Support universal healthcare, but do not compromise your principles.