The Right To Health Care
In advance of the president’s speech, I thought it would be informative for you Wordsmokers out there who care about this issue to read the following.
Yes, this is a repost–and I know it is long, but just fucking read it–from the amazing progressive blogger Digby:
Wolcott makes an important point about the “health care debate” (and quotes tristero!):
Just take the phrase itself, “health care reform,” or, in its usual journalistic shorthand, “health reform.”
Are you telling me that with all the money pumped into consultants and pollsters, in a country whose media culture is built on advertising and catchphrases, that with all of ambitious little beavering minds who have studied the art and science of persuasion (and know Lakoff “framing” backwards and forwards, chapter and verse), that with all of that the architects and backers couldn’t come up with something more inspiring and memorable than “health care reform”? Where’s the creativity, the missionary zeal, the visionary spark? First of all, “reform” is one of the most boring fucking well-meaning meaningless words in the language. It’s a word that carries no juice, no buzz, no friction, no color, no nothing.
Why is it that Republican consultants can coin something as cunningly diabolical as “death tax” (as a substitute for inheritance taxes) and sell the hell out of it, or contrive the “Contract with America,” yet health reform is packaged in a plain brown wrapper with all the pizazz of a corporate restructuring plan. It should have been called something upbeat and flagwavey like “The American Health Freedom Act,” guaranteeing health coverage and available, affordable insurance for all.
Same deal with the “public option.” What kind of dead-dick policy term is that? “Option” is another term of pure anesthesia. Yes, Sarah Palin was fear-mongering with “death panels,” but that was a phrase that hit a nerve chord, as it was intended to. Faced with such poison spitballing, you’ve either got to up your deflection skills or find your own power chords.
read on ..
I could not agree more. The Democratic rhetoric on this has been about as lame as I’ve ever seen and that’s saying something. And it’s not just the buzzwords, it’s the slogans (or lack of them.) Why aren’t we hearing this kind of thing over and over again?
“Health Care is a right not a privilege.”
“Universal Health Care is pro-life”
“Nobody in America should have to go bankrupt because they get sick.”* (© Rick Perlstein)
“If you think it can’t happen to you, think again.”
“We already ration medicine in this country, we just do it by ability to pay. And once you get sick and can’t work, you can’t pay.”
Those are just a handful, some good some not. But let’s just say it would have been fairly easy to come up with some meaningful, pithy rhetoric to convey what the liberal position on health care is really all about.
Why are we fighting for a public option? Well, for me, it’s mainly because I resent the hell out of being forced to give money to a bunch of greedy private interests who game the system for their own enrichment on the backs of sick people. But that’s just me. I would guess that there are other people who care about saving costs and competition and the other wonky concerns.
But whatever the reasons, it’s clear that despite my earlier optimism about the reemergence of the word “public,” the term “public option” clearly was far too obscure and therefore easily demagogued. “Guaranteed Health Security Plan” or something like that would have been better. Or do what the Republicans do and cop the other side’s rhetoric for your own gain and call it “Individual Choice.”
Obviously, it’s easier to criticize than it is to come up with good alternatives. But Wolcott is right, nonetheless. You can’t beat “death panels” with “public option.” They aren’t even in the same rhetorical realm.