The Town Hall Mob
My fellow Democrats: We're in for the fight of our lives. I know more about what we're up against than most Democrats, because I'm married to a staunch Republican, attend a church that's 90+% Republican, and have many friends among them. I'm also a sociologist by training and a debater by practice.
Based on all this, here's some heartfelt advice:
1. Don't call them racists.
It's a Rovian trap to do so--one set by the Republican leadership and their healthcare denial industry paymasters. They never, ever say "We hate Obama because he's black," even if everything they do would make it reasonable to think so.
But when you call them racists, you've just changed the topic from healthcare reform to a territory they can defend. And while you're trying to prove they're racists, the RNC will be rubbing its hands, as the topic of healthcare is forgotten.
2. Don't let them call Obama and the Democratic Party and you socialists.
And they will. Count on it. I usually say: "Socialism means ownership of business by government. Democrats don't want to own it. We just want to regulate it. We tried business without regulation twice in the last century. It got us the Great Depression and now the worst recession since that. But help me out. Republicans seem to want ownership of government by business. What do you call that?"
And as Krugman points out, they don't want "socialized healthcare" but they're often on Medicare.
The other advanced countries--all democracies--have everything ranging from heavily regulated private systems to mostly socialized ones. All of them are far cheaper than our system; all of them have better health outcomes than our system. And not one of those countries' electorates have ever shown the slightest interest in adopting our system.
Guess why? They don't want to die while some for-profit insurance company denies your request for a new kidney, hoping that if they slow-foot your claim you will in fact die before they're forced to honor it.
And by the way...cops and firemen are "socialized safety."
3. They'll say most Americans are happy with their current healthcare.
I say wait 'till you or a loved one gets really sick. After all, if you ran a health insurance company, and your only goal was profit, what would you do when a customer got really, really sick?
You'd get rid of him, using your army of bureaucrats whose main job is to find excuses for recission--that's cutting off someone's insurance by saying you didn't dot an "i" somewhere on your application.
That's why I call these companies the "Healthcare denial industry." Very few people who've actually had catastrophic illness are happy with their healthcare insurance. And even those who say they're happy may not have noticed how their healthcare premiums have doubled in the last few years, because it's why you didn't get a raise--it's often hidden in your overall compensation.
4. They'll say they don't want the government telling them when to die, and as Krugman points out, even Republican congressmen are saying this.
People this far gone can rarely be reached, but I just say "The people you think are on your side are actually vampires sucking your blood; the people you think are out to destroy you and America are actually trying to save you--and you're throwing away the life vest they've thrown you because the predators pretending to be your friends told you it's a bomb."
Bottom line: the Republican healthcare plan is the alternative to the Democrats' attempt at healthcare reform. What's that plan, you say? Easy. It's the healthcare reform plan Congress passed during the 12 years the Republican Party controlled Congress and the six years it controlled all three branches of government:
That's right, folks. That's their healthcare reform package. Nothing. Excuse me if I don't include their pharmaceutical industry giveaway that masqueraded as Medicare drug assistance. Other than that phony plan that ordered government agencies to pay whatever price the drug companies chose to charge...nothing.
The healthcare denial industry has grown to swallow up 1/6 of the entire American economy, gutting our competitiveness on the world market, through keeping things exactly as they are. Without healthcare reform the current system will take up 1/3 of the entire economy in a few years.
It's unsustainable. You think Medicare and Social Security are headed for trouble? That's nothing compared to this.
Most of all, the Republicans want their rank and file to think we Democrats are their enemy; that we want to turn America into some alien place they won't recognize.
And they want Democrats to treat Republican rank and file as their enemy, so we'll never realize we both have the same enemy: the bloodsucking billionaires who pull the strings in the shadows. They're practicing divide and conquer. And they're very, very good at it.
So remember who the real enemy is.
Your choice of two flavors of sauce:
Honey Barbeque Blog
NotchYo Cheese Times
This is really quite old, but I held off posting because A)It seemed likely such good advice would show up here, and B)I ... kind of hoped we still wouldn't need it almost a month later.
TL:DR - The advice is sound: Don't talk about namby pamby moral imperatives and kitten cuddling rhetoric, because the two sides speak wildly different dialects of that language. Talk about the market, talk about the business, talk about the structure, and wait for them to show what kind of foundation they really stand on.