Last night, Rachel Maddow both commented on and explicitly endorsed the idea that the upholding of the ACA gives President Obama and Democrats a valuable opportunity to re-introduce and explain it to the public. This, she said, was in fact the main win they secured -- no policies had changed, the election calculus was intact and Republicans would now be able to motivate their supporters based on this new ruling. Democrats wouldn't.
But they could try again to re-sell the act.
They should do so.
Also on the show, Rachel reminded viewers about the Massachusetts version of healthcare reform. She ran an (extremely cheesy) ad that walked a viewer through a few of the reasons to join up with the newly offered coverage. It featured regular-looking citizens from assorted age and ethnic groups noting that they had joined up. Some Red Sox players were also featured in the ad campaign -- can't pull on the hometown heartstrings more than that!
Basically it was all extremely routine. It was a positive, no-frills awareness campaign meant to describe the new law. Mitt Romney didn't appear. It didn't smack of campaign sleaze or politics; there were no winners or losers. It was just, "this is the law now; you can and should participate." If anything, it was embarrassing for its lack of slickness in the way low-budget or hometown ads sometimes are -- you know, the ones that are put together by normal people to innocently convey facts and aren't focus grouped to death and stamped for approval by Frank Luntz?
This is needed on a national scale related to the Affordable Care Act.Why not? It's an election year, so ads are running anyway. Surely SuperPACs exist that are supportive of the law (including, one would think, almost any Obama-aligned organizations). Yes, some negative Romney-defining ads are necessary; I'm no dove here. We can't re-elect an admittedly divisive sitting President with pictures of puppies and lollipops.
But for the percentage of ads that are going to be positive anyway -- whatever that percentage is -- why not devote a portion to actual factual, instructional education about what the ACA is and does?
In talking with non-politically active friends and family about politics (especially during election years) I frequently hear that people are disgusted about the vast amounts of money in politics. They hate how many ads they have to watch and how sleazy they all are. They don't believe they are swayed by them or that they serve any purpose (even though research surely proves otherwise, unfortunately). They are insulted by the gravely voices and out-of-context quotes and the apparent lies. They assume everything they hear is spin. They never receive any useful information from these ads; all that money is just funneled down the toilet. So why not change that?
Why not have President Obama's surrogates pledge to spend a portion of their ads educating the public about the ACA? It's a pure issue ad, so any organization could take part. Though the right has politicized the issue, it's not inherently political; a new law simply exists that affords new opportunities to various members of the public. They need to be informed of those opportunities in order to take advantage of them. A very simple ad campaign could easily be put together to do this; not one commercial that will air forever, but a series of them, each explaining a different aspect of the law. Think of the "Mac guy and PC guy" ads run by Apple that each highlighted a new angle about Apple products. Why not follow Massachusetts' example and just explain the law to people, calmly, factually, no spin, no politics?
Poll after poll shows that the components of the bill are popular, even to Republicans, when they're explained. So let's explain them! No more vague notions of "freedom" and "choice" and "well-being"; give us the details! We like them!
Overall support of the law as a whole has remained consistent -- and relatively poor -- but the Supreme Court's ruling presents a unique, one-time-only shot (the last we'll get) to re-sell this law and its provisions to the public. For many around the country who thought it wasn't worth learning about the law because it was destined to be struck down, now is our chance to inform them.
I think every ad that bolsters support for the ACA translates directly into support for the President. There's no need to muddy the waters by talking about what the Heritage Foundation did or didn't advocate, or what prior Republicans may have supported, or what Mitt Romney did or didn't do, or said or didn't say. That's politics.
Let's talk about health care.
Let's talk about what this law actually does. Let's talk about those rebate checks. Let's talk about those exchanges. Let's put pressure on states to expand Medicaid. Let's share a few stories from the past, sure, but let's focus on the future -- what's coming, what it means for you and your friends and neighbors and kids and parents, and why it's good.
Let's explain this. There's no need to spin it. Every new person who understands it is an instant Obama supporter in November. The GOP will take care of that.