Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

Is Obama About to Shift His Health Care Message In the Wrong Direction?

The Wall Street Journal today reported:

President Barack Obama, trying to regain control of the health-care debate, will likely shift his pitch in September, White House and Democratic officials said, as he faces pressure from supporters to talk more about the moral imperative to provide health insurance to all Americans…
A Democratic strategist said, “If you are going to sell something as big and monumental and transformative as health care, you cannot get small with it. You’ve got to be larger. You’ve got to call on the better angels out there.”

If what they mean by this is emphasizing the moral obligation to help the uninsured, I feel like that will be a spiritual winner and political loser. I wish it weren’t so, but I can’t think of a single piece of domestic policy legislation passed in the last 40 years premised on the idea that we have an obligation to help others. When progressives have succeeded it was by marrying the interests of the poor with those of the middle class. That’s how Roosevelt sold Social Security.
It’s not that I think Obama should ignore the moral dimension. But I think that politically speaking the moral values most likely to resonate are the universal ones — that the current system isn’t fair, to people who have insurance and those who don’t. As I wrote earlier, if you’re looking for Biblical concepts, emphasize justice, not love.

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Katie Angel

posted August 19, 2009 at 12:48 pm

I think you can do both – appeal to the finest in our nature (the call by Christ to help those who are poor and lost) and appeal to our sense of fairness. What we really need from the Obama White House is a clear message – whatever it is – that tells us what they propose and why it is needed WITH SPECIFICS. A successful campaign appeals to the right (emotional) side of our brain before it ever gets to the left (rational) side. So far the Democrats and the President have tried to fight a emotional-filled scare tactic campaign with a rational explanation. And it hasn’t worked. It’s time to borrow a page from the people who are trying to destroy the healthcare reform with exaggeration and deception – appeal to American’s emotions and sympathies. The spiraling cost of healthcare needs to be arrested and we need to use every tool in the belt to make it work for all Americans.

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Igor Marxomarxovich

posted August 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm

How you tell when politician lie?
Comrade Pelosi blink
Slick Willy rub nose
Comrade Obama open mouth
Dumb Donkey Gibbs laugh…Hehaw..he..haw..he..haw!
I Igor produce Barrack Milhaus Hussein Obama Birth Certificate at
Compare Obama Care vs Igor Care at Obama vs Igor Care

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posted August 19, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Rod has had several recent blogs about emotions vs. fact in relationship to politics/health care.
Psychologist in the political field have documented that appealing to emotion works much better than a list of facts. It has been obvious that angry individuals at Town Hall Meeting ignore or refuse to accept the facts.
A good source is Drew Westen, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Emory University and founder of Westen Strategies. He is the author of The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation. He also writes blogs on Huffington Post.
Summary of Dr. Westen’s work: We vote with our hearts, not our minds
But on issue after issue, the President is selling hope without audacity, leaving centrist Democrats from purple states and districts fearful of attacks from the right on everything from deficits to “socialized medicine.” Why? Because of his steadfast refusal either to call out his opponents by name or to tell the story of how we got into any of the messes we’re in.
Obama need to appeal to emotions, including showing anger.

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Laura Hedlund

posted August 21, 2009 at 6:47 am

Who we are, we are. Greed, fear exist. So does hope and love. America’s health care is great it is our greed-driven health care system. Change is coming.

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