In 2007, after nearly 20 years working as a pediatrician in Maryland, Margaret Flowers left her job. She said she had grown tired of watching her patients struggle to receive care through a private health care system.
She then became an advocate, working as an adviser for the Physicians for a National Health Program. She fought for a single-payer health care system, which she felt could provide care to people far more efficiently.
In the decade since, her advocacy has grown into areas such as economic and environmental justice, in a push to bring a federal living wage and higher fuel standards. All of these problems that need to be addressed, she said, have one central cause: corporations putting profit ahead of the greater good.
Flowers, 53, of Baltimore, is running for the U.S. Senate as a member of the Green Party. Her opponents on the ballot are Chris Van Hollen (D) and Kathy Szeliga (R). The general election is on Nov. 8.
She continues to advocate, as co-director of Popular Resistance, which educates and organizes people to build alternative economic institutions that create more shared wealth, she said. She is also on the steering committee of the Maryland Health Care is a Human Right — Maryland campaign.
Flowers said that as a U.S. senator, she wants to help reform a political system overtaken by corporate greed. Outsiders need to bring about change that will help working people, she said.
Flowers is refusing corporate donations for her campaign.
When in office, she said, she will accept only the median Maryland income for individuals, now at $56,127, and will donate the rest of her salary to activities that help build social movements. She will not accept health insurance until all other people have it, she said.
“I only want to do as well as the people I’m fighting for,” she said. “If they’re doing well, then I’m doing well. If they’re not doing well, then I’m going to be right there with them.”
To help workers gain more control from their employers and earn higher wages, Flowers said, she’ll fight to expand worker-owned cooperatives and have greater profit-sharing business strategies. She pledged to introduce legislation to improve protections for the right of workers to organize.
Flowers wants to break up the big banks and create a system of publicly owned local banks that will provide loans for low-rate mortgages and local infrastructure projects.
She said she’d cut the military budget to invest in domestic needs and create an expansive program to move to green energy and support sustainable local economies.
Also, she’ll push for a single-payer health care system that brought her into political advocacy, which she said is long overdue.
As a pediatrician, Flowers said, she saw countless children who needed certain health procedures or medicines, but were left at the whims of private insurance companies that often denied them coverage. She came to believe that everybody should receive care when their health is at stake.
A single-payer health care system would streamline the inefficiencies of a private system, while saving money and providing care to everyone, she said, making health care a right for all citizens.