Hello, y'all. This is a semi-quick update to my first diary in this series.
I went home for a couple days to celebrate Christmas. While I didn't get as much of a chance to discuss politics with my conservative father (and so feed the content of this series) as I'd hoped, I did manage to have a conversation with him about healthcare reform. Because, you see... I helped my stepmom and stepbrother sign up for Obamacare.
It was relatively quick, it was relatively painless, and I only rolled my eyes at the website design a couple times. We needed just two documents: my stepbrother's social security card, and my stepmother's W2's. It took us about thirty to forty-five minutes to go through the application process and choose a plan.
We found a Silver-grade HMO from Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS). After the subsidy, the cost was $40/month, with a $0 deductible and a $1500 out-of-pocket yearly maximum. The subsidy accounted for a $344/month reduction in premium. Specialists for my stepmother's neuropathy are eighty dollars less per visit. Generic drugs are a $4 co-pay, if I remember right. Glasses and eye exams are totally free, which is great for my stepbrother since he has Irlen's disease.
So naturally, there was only one more thing to do. I needed to gloat to my conservative father.
In my father's words:
I'll believe it when I get the bill.Having gloated to him and given him the above information about how we saved an epic amount of money thanks to Obamacare, that was his response. Exasperated, I said that it was a done deal - the bill would be arriving soon enough. And if it doesn't, we'd still be getting the same subsidy, and the cost of the plan would still be the same. I felt his disbelief was absurd.
So I kept up the pressure.
Come on, you can admit it: Obamacare rocks. It saved us a bunch of money.That was my retort. And this was his response:
Okay. If and only if it works out, then yeah, for now, Obamacare kinda rocks.Score one for our side, folks.
The electoral consequences:
This is big, y'all. While there are parts of the law that my father dislikes, such as the individual mandate; on the whole, he seems to have come around to the law. It has helped us tremendously, giving us very good health insurance for a tiny premium. My father has always believed in anything that can help his family - he's just that kind of fellow. So anything that helps his family becomes good in his eyes. And given that healthcare is a big part of his and his family's life, you can imagine the importance of this issue for him.
Something I've been predicting for years is that, once Obamacare actually hit and everyone got a chance to look at it without the influence of the talking heads and the propaganda machines, we'd see something pretty rare in politics: People, middle-aged adults even, changing their minds. What I think we'll see in 2014 is a lot of people like my father voting Democrat for the first time in their lives.
This could be devastating to the conservative majority in the House. Right now, their majority is built on gerrymandering and the natural tendency of traditional Democratic coalitions (African Americans, Hispanics, and educated and/or young whites) to congregate in large cities, thus making "packing" quite easy and, in fact, natural. One of the consequences of gerrymandering is that, while ostensibly unassailable by the traditional Democratic coalition, the conservatives often win victories that aren't terribly large. This is because, in order to increase the number of GOP seats, it is necessary to spread them a little thinner than normal. Thus you see a bunch of districts with PVI's around R+7 to R+10, made possible by the few D+20 or D+30 districts that pack all the Democrats together.
But if a relatively small chunk of conservative voters are swayed by Obamacare, we'll see these previously unassailable districts fall like dominoes, many of them quite unexpectedly. And if my father is any indication of the conservative mindset, then I think this outcome is far more likely than most might think.
*Small note: "Conservative" here refers to old-school conservatism of the type espoused by Nixon or Reagan or Shrub the First, not to the new Tea Party coalition. If I reference the new coalition, I will refer to them as the Tea Partiers.