I think, this morning, of the one time I did a major construction project.
Back in the very early 1970s, we bought a package including a concrete slab and the framework and materials for a two-car garage, and I spent the better part of a summer doing the vast majority of the work to complete the structure. I’m not a carpenter, and it was a great deal of work, but each time I’ve been by that house in subsequent years, that garage is still standing, a testimony to a very good job.
The Health Care Reform Bill passed last night and now nearly ready to begin life is a similar piece of construction: it’s new, it’s not perfect, and it’s not done. But it’s a start.
The big difference between the Reform bill and that garage of mine, is that there’s a gang down the street whose cause in life, now, will be to tear down that frame, and if it can’t be torn down, to make it look like a rotten piece of construction. “Who could possibly make such a stupid decision? Call us in and let us start over, and make a good building.” Of course, these are the same folks fought against the building in the first place, but no matter. “Let us start over and do it right.”
The narrative for the opposition is very simple. I haven’t seen their script, but it is obvious in the rhetoric: suddenly it will be suggested that the evil ones, called “socialism”, have taken over. The research on opposing has been well done. The icky words which resonate with the people who have been taught to fear Health Care Reform will be dragged out constantly. That is how the game is played.
I’ve been through the training, years ago: stay on message; make sure that message is never more than three parts. Don’t allow anyone to divert you from your message.
There is an antidote to the nay-sayers, and that is to go, and stay, on the offense.
It is not enough for us to be spectators in a TV drama. We need to learn about what is going on, and participate.
We can start by keeping in mind that every single Republican – every single one – voted against the Reform initiative, this over a year from the inception of the debate. We are not a country that is that polarized. The Democrats who voted against the initiative for their own reasons probably better reflect the diverse views of the country than the Republicans who simply represent a monolith of NO.
Health Care Reform is not an ideological hate phrase. Rather it is an absolutely essential (and long overdue) move in a better direction. It won’t be perfect, and its every imperfection will be pointed out ad nauseum.
In my opinion, there are two constituencies who will be most courted to be against Health Care Reform, and they are a very odd couple:
1) They will be the senior citizens, like me, who will be made to feel that their Social Security and Medicare is at risk (it is not.)
2) And they will be the young, healthier people who cannot conceive of ever needing insurance, and don’t want to pay insurance premiums. In a sad sense, I was once in their shoes. “Been there, done that” 1963-65 (note Story #1).
Both groups will be courted on the premise of individual rights as opposed to responsibility to the greater good – to the society of which they are a part. Little things will be left out of the story: like the absolute requirement for people who own cars to have insurance; or the massive positive benefit of Medicare to senior citizens in this country – a benefit which should be shared with everyone.
There will be other segments as well, but these are the two I’d watch.