When Jimmy Carter ran for President in 1980, he ran as a Centrist Democrat. Hailing from a family of peanut farmers from Georgia, Carter was center left on economic policy and right down the middle on social issues. In fact Jerry Brown, now governor of California, and liberal icon Ted Kennedy both ran against Carter from the left.
But as Carter has aged, two things have changed. First, his views have consistently evolved as he’s gotten older. Second, the Democratic Party has shifted to the right in the 30 plus years since his Presidency, especially in terms of its stance on regulating corporations and big banks.
Carter shocked many in early May of this year when he revealed that he had voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries.
“Can y’all see why I voted for him,” the former President asked the crowd after Sanders made a comment about revitalizing American democracy as the two shared the stage at a Carter Center even in the Mr. Carter’s home state.
Now Carter is going to a step further. In an address to the congregation ahead of the Sunday School class that he teaches every week, Carter talked about his experienced trying to expand coverage, and then predicted that the United States will go single-payer soon.
“I think eventually we’ll have a single-payer system,” Carter told the congregation.
This comes during a time when Democrats are very seriously reconsidering their party’s position on many issues related to the economy, of which healthcare is probably the biggest. Many Senators and House members have come out in support of a Medicare-for-All system since Trump won the election. Representative John Conyers (D – Mich) introduced a universal healthcare bill in the House back in late January. 77 Democrats co-sponsored the legislation, a number that would have been unimaginable just two years ago before Senator Bernie Sanders launched his bid for the Presidency.
All the momentum seems to be going in the direction of Single Payer, and this may be a moment progressive activists can seize upon. With Obamacare struggling to lower costs and the GOP healthcare bill gaining the approval of just 17 percent of the American public, Democrats may be able to rally enough support to get a Medicare-for-All bill through Congress.
Of course, they’d have to win back Congress first. But if they can do so, and Trump’s going to give them every opportunity with his historically low approval ratings, the next President may just find themselves signing single payer into law. The increasingly widespread support of the “old guard” Democrats like Jimmy Carter makes it all the more likely.