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“Stand By It, Support It, Argue For It”: Democrats Should Run On Obamacare, Not Run From It

Alex Sink should have won the special congressional election in Florida yesterday. She had more money, she had a better resume and profile, and she was certainly a good candidate.

Florida’s 13th congressional district is a very competitive district that President Obama carried in both 2008 and 2012. True, it had been in Republican hands for a long time, but it was a good chance for the Democrats to pick up an open seat.

So, what went wrong? Hard to tell, of course, from inside the beltway, but let me offer up one thought. Sink tried to straddle health care and got caught in the middle.

As we all know, the notion that “I was for it before I was sort-of against it” does not sit well with voters. Certainly one could argue that the “fix what is wrong” strategy could work in 2014 for Democrats. But my fear is that what the voters hear is “I don’t really like Obamacare much because it may be hurting me politically.”

It is my strong belief that Democrats need to argue vociferously for the benefits of Obamacare. They need to tout what it will do for the country, for average Americans, for those without health insurance, for the economy, for keeping health care costs under control. If candidates believe they can distance themselves politically, especially after they voted in favor of it, they are making a tragic mistake. Own it. Don’t shy away from the important impact it is having now and will have in the future.

Sure, each race is different, each race will have its own dynamics, each race will have its own issues and differences among candidates. But if Democrats are hopelessly divided on health care, even at odds with themselves, they will not be able to stop the Republicans from hammering them.

By emphasizing the “mend it, don’t end it” strategy rather than the “here’s what it will do for you” strategy, Democrats are playing defense. Sure, they can use the Bill Clinton line, “We’ll be fixing it this year, will fix it next year and we’ll fix it the year after that,” but stand by it, support it, argue for it. This is the way Social Security worked and Medicare too — they were constantly amended and changed — but the end result is that they are among the most effective and popular programs ever enacted.

Gov. Mitt Romney tried to straddle the auto bailout, Republicans try obfuscating on women’s issues and Kerry tried to argue both sides of his Iraq vote. It’s hard to make those plays work.

On Obamacare, Democrats should argue strongly for it. Over the next eight months, Democrats should point to the number of people signing up, the care that people are receiving, the improvements in delivery and cost, and, most importantly, what it will accomplish in the future. Once Obamacare is fully operational, fewer people will be bankrupted by health care expenses, our populace will be healthier and the overall impact on the nation will be similar to Social Security and Medicare.

In short, if Democrats start now and double down on the issue, they will fare better in November than if they run and hide.

 

By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, March 12, 2014

March 13, 2014 - Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Democrats, Obamacare | , , , , , ,

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