Healthcare For All: Rep. Ron Kind Misses A Big Opportunity To Show Leadership & Listen To Voters

Rep. Ron Kind ignores the health care concerns of 3rd Congressional District democrats this past Saturday in Sparta.


By Mark L. Taylor
The Commoner Call (3/15/18)

This past Saturday the Democratic Party Third Congressional District Convention was held in the American Legion Hall in Sparta. Somewhere around 100 democratic party activists from all over the far flung 3rd CD gathered to hear from candidates for a variety of offices, debate a slate of interesting resolutions and network with other activists.

A contingent of Vernon County delegates (I was one) decided we needed to carry the cause of Medicare For All to the gathering and particularly Rep. Ron Kind, who was slated to address the crowd over the lunch hour. The congressman has been decidedly deaf to the passionate and growing calls of his constituents over the past year for single payer health care. In a series of public meetings he has airly dismissed the needed reform as impractical and that it could never happen. Back during the Obamacare debate he took great delight in letting local dems know there would be no public option to compete with the insurance industry’s brutally expensive choke hold on American family health care.

Now a crusty old political cynic might say the congressman’s hostility to constituent calls for single payer — Medicare for All — might have something to do with the fact that according to Open Secrets the top two donors to Ron Kind’s campaign coffers in the past year are the insurance industry ($149,500) and health professionals ($106,764). Number three on the donor list is Big Pharma with $76,800. Taken together a realist would say there are at least 333,054 reasons for Mr.Kind to have developed a deaf ear when it comes to the kind of health care reform that would provide care to all families in the district.

Both the cynic and the realist would be right. So that is why a group of idealists from the Vernon County dems had a bunch of signs and buttons printed up for the convention. On one side the signs called for “Medicare For All”. On the backside was “HR 676” — legislation calling for Medicare for All.

Signs and buttons went fast. Almost 100 buttons were snapped up. During the congressman’s noontime address the signs were on display. Now in past 3rd CD gatherings the congressman would take questions but Saturday he practically did a standing broad jump backwards from the front of the room with his final word. No questions would be tolerated on that day. To hell with the obvious concerns of the party activists  in the room who are expected to man his campaign.

Missed opportunity. Ignored responsibility.

To tell you the truth, even a veteran of Ron Kind stonewalling like me was taken aback. Here were people he will be calling upon to help with his upcoming campaign expressing concern about a major issue directly affecting their families and communities and Ron Kind wouldn’t even acknowledge the issue. Not a single question would be taken.

Some might call it callous. Others might call it chicken. I would call it both … and really bush league.

The congressman had an opportunity — and a moral responsibility — to at least engage in some discussion about such an important issue his voters had taken effort to bring up. It would not have taken a diplomatic genius to handle the issue. As is too often the case with Ron Kind, he failed his supporters and shirked his responsibility as an employee of the voters.


Maiela Leinberger with a decorated “Medicare For All” sign for Rep. Ron Kind.


One of the bright spots of the day was young Maiela Leinberger who, at 14 years of age, was the youngest person at the 3rd CD Convention. She comes by her political chops honestly. Her mom, Alicia, is running in the primary for the 96th Assembly District.

A budding artist, Maiela had decorated one of the Medicare for All signs, which she gave to Rep. Kind.

Why, I wondered would a 14 year-old spend her Saturday at a political gathering with a bunch of adults?

“I went because I like watching how political decisions are made,” Maiela said. “Teens should pay attention because adults have left us with a bunch of crap to deal with and if we don’t address this bad things will happen.”
Too bad the congressman failed to show Maiela how a real representative engages constituents on important public issues, even when — especially when — there is disagreement. Perhaps in 20 years a Rep. Maiela Leinberger will show us how it is really done!
As high school students across the nation have been showing this past month, they have a kind of sense of public duty and civic courage largely lacking among our elected representatives.
Maiela did a little body art project of her impression of a day at the 3rd CD Convention.