|Illustration by Ben Heine|
ALEXANDRIA, VA - Recently the Washington Post performed a poll in collaboration with ABC News.
The main question was if a person supports a government-run health care insurance plan, commonly known as a public option. According to the poll, 57% of Americans supports some type of public option.
Since August, the public option proposal has gained support, recovering from a low of 52%. Opposition to the public option, which was at its peak at 46% in August, has steadily declined and sits at 40%. Many explanations could explain this trend.
Perchance it was President Barack Obama’s speeches, including the address made before both houses of Congress. Perchance the list of compromises expected convinced many to change sides. I posit another idea for this growing support for the public option. Perchance it is the political extremism found in the opposition that explains the change of heart.
It was probably not the speeches of President Obama and his congressional supporters. As they were going about the country preaching the good news of government health care favorability for the idea was decreasing. Popularity for the public option itself is a bit hazy as well, since pollsters from Washington Post and ABC conceded that “Americans remain sharply divided about the overall packages moving closer to votes in Congress."
This means an exact plan has not been agreed to by that firm majority of Americans. A specific plan laid out for the masses is not the answer. So what was the cause? Look no further than the protestors, those who have the most vociferous disdain for the public option.
Throughout the summer across the nation town hall meetings became the focal point of strident opposition towards the health care reform proposals made by Congressional Democrats.
These people were not resorting to critical inquiry, they were shouting down congressmen, asking loaded questions, and condemning congressmen to Hell. Let’s not forget the clichéd Nazi comparisons, as protests big and small included posters of Obama with the bar mustache.
This does not mean there are no legitimate concerns with President Obama’s health care proposals. And contrary to what Jimmy Carter has said on NBC, racism is not the chief driving force behind vehement opposition to Obama’s policies.
Amusingly enough, Carter would later “clarify” on CNN that he did not mean most or all of Obama’s critics were racist, essentially contradicting himself. Many are upset with healthcare reform ideas for reasons outside of bigotry. Libertarians see it as an unhealthy expansion of government power, since they see government as inherently detrimental in everything save a precious few items. Some liberals see the latest adaptations as not going far enough, while conservatives see it as too bureaucratic and economically dangerous.
Still, intellectual opponents to “Obamacare” let their extremist wing run amuck, not only resorting to the aforementioned smear tactics but also letting various misconceptions about the bill abound. Claims about “death panels,” funding of abortions, and coverage for illegal immigrants are still widely believed by political adversaries of Obama and Congressional Democrats, yet seldom justified with evidence.
The claims have become quite contradictory: on the one hand these partisans claim the bill is too large to know what’s in it, on the other hand they know with great certainty that it creates “death panels”, funds abortions, and gives illegal immigrants benefits.
Maybe all of these baseless arguments, bouts of extremism, and anti-intellectual rants about Communism and Nazism coming to America just made many Americans sick to their stomach. Those who might have been on the fence or sympathetic to the opposition now feel uncomfortable associating with them. It’s not without historical precedent.
As the 2004 election neared liberal activists resorted to the same tactics, calling former President George W. Bush everything from Hitler to a moron.
They advanced baseless claims including but not exclusive to Bush would reinstitute the draft if reelected, went AWOL during Vietnam, and was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Liberals and Democrats opted out of policing their fringe elements.
Sure enough when election 2004 occurred Bush won a second term and Republicans made gains on their majorities in Congress. Perhaps Republicans and opponents to “Obamacare” should think on these things.