‘Healthcare is a Right’: Bernie Sanders Finds Common Ground in Trump Country

by Nika Knight, staff writer

Common Dreams | 14 March, 2017

Bernie Sanders discusses the decline of coal jobs with a coal miner at Sunday’s town hall in McDowell County, West Virginia. (Screenshot: MSNBC)

In a town hall in rural McDowell County, West Virginia, on Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told a crowd filled with supporters of President Donald Trump that “healthcare is a right”—and was met with cheers.

The town hall was broadcast Monday on MSNBC‘s “All In With Chris Hayes,” and featured discussion on a range of topics: jobs, infrastructure, healthcare, and the opioid crisis, among others.

The warm reception to Sanders’ views—that climate change is real, that universal healthcare is a right, and that free higher education is necessary, among others—demonstrated that residents of this county that voted 75 percent for Trump support far more progressive policies than those touted by the president.

As Hayes observed during the televised segment, the decline of coal has “decimated” the community, and many were also given a lifeline by the extension of Medicaid under Obamacare. During the presidential campaign, Trump promised the return of those coal jobs and also vowed to improve Americans’ healthcare coverage.

And so as the GOP aims to push millions off of healthcare and Trump aggressively deregulates industry, it remains to be seen how the Wall Street-friendly administration will ultimately be received by residents of depressed, rural areas such as McDowell County. Given the overwhelmingly positive reception to Sanders’ progressive stances at Sunday’s town hall, it looks as though Republicans—as well as West Virginia’s conservative Democratic senator Joe Manchin—may have something to worry about.