Repeal. Repeal. Repeal. The midterm elections are already being billed as some sort of WWF Tag Team event where all the good Americans just needs to rope-a-dope for eight months until we can sub in fresh blood and knock this sucker off the books. It’ll be that easy apparently. I have two questions with regards to both parties’ plans over the coming months as they relate to this Health Care bill.
1) Will this be possible if the Republicans don’t change “repeal” to “reform” and is that possible because “reform” had been used by the Democrats? I don’t think so. The dust is going to settle and for the next eight months we’ll hear about all the good things this bill is going to do for “the future of America.” Once people understand that most Americans under this new bill are actually paying (not getting a “handout”) a lot of the consternation from the middle ground will fade.
At that point the Republicans are left with the task of negotiating the waters of repeal when the word should actually be reform, or re-reform. How will they tactfully say they want to “kill the bill” but keep the good parts? (which they have indirectly said exist) I’m not sure. Enough people will hear about the pieces of the bill that are appealing to them (Me First America) and forget about the rest. (American ADD) Keep in mind that Republican politicians will be playing to independents and swing voters, not the faithful, so they’ll have to get clever. I don’t know how they do that and history suggests they don’t either, especially with the Democrats riding so high. Which brings me to my second, and what I think will be more interesting, question…
2) How will the Obama Administration portray the Republicans that voted against this measure? In my opinion, the most intangible but detrimental effect of the Bush years was that our national political discourse finally became binary. You were with us or against us. You supported the troops or you didn’t. Nuance was laid on its deathbed and to be honest, I’m still not sure how it’s doing.
One of Barry’s big promises was to do away with Bushspeak and restore discussion and dialogue to the beltway. (As was every other Presidential candidate’s) I am curious if the White House sticks to their guns. Will the White House cast Republicans as “the party against Health Care reform” or even “the party that voted against a bill that prevents big insurance companies from denying coverage to sick children” as we go into elections? Local politicians surely will, but I wonder about the White House.
Think about the Iraq War. Every American was against Saddam Hussein and supported our troops, just like everyone is for untangling our suffocating Health Care system, but folks had different ways of wanting to solve the problem. Focusing on sanctions and Realpolitik, instead of invasion, is not unlike focusing on tort reform and cost containment, instead of overhaul. War and Health Care are different animals but the tactics with which politicians discuss them are often, disappointingly, the same.
On #1 I think the Republicans try to keep the Kill Bill/Tea Party momentum and promise to approach the bill with an axe and not a scalpel. I don’t see a thought leader in the Republican Party who is going to find nuance and spread a meaningful message on how they will reform it. So keeping American ADD in mind, the fist pounding will continue, then seem lame and fitting with a “party without ideas,” and people will turn to the party that appears to get shit done. This is unfortunate; minority opposition should focus on thinking, not shouting.
On #2, I think the Obama Administration is the one rope-a-doping for the next eight months while firmly reiterating all the benefits of this bill and educating(read: convincing) the American people on how it helps the country. They know there won’t be nuance from the other side so why attempt it? They are better off hammering home the benefits, what the bill means for everyone and how it will be a net savings over time and let the Republicans set the backdrop of wanting to blow it all away. (“They’re saying they want to repeal, not us!”)
But if there is nuance? If the Republicans do find a clear message on the exact measures they’ll take with the bill and it gains momentum with swing voters? I think we see Bushspeak—now Obamaspeak—and the discussion on Health Care becomes binary. It’s a shitty tactic, but after eight years, it clearly works.