At last week’s Republican National Convention, speakers mentioned Obamacare exactly once. This from the same party that consistently opposed government-backed health insurance for millions of lower-income Americans, whose members in Congress refused to support it and whose House members voted to repeal it dozens of times. The GOP’s favorite policy for ridicule and court challenges got just one mention during the convention, according to the Times.

There’s good reason for that. Twenty million Americans who did not have health insurance — and wouldn’t today if not for the Affordable Care Act — now enjoy its benefits. As a result, the ACA has become more popular nationwide. Republicans like Maryland’s Andy Harris have thousands of constituents who benefit from the law. There is no longer anything to gain from beating this horse.

Democrats, starting with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, should be trumpeting the law every chance they get, reminding a nation in the midst of a pandemic of its vital importance while emphasizing that, despite the lack of mention at the RNC, the Trump administration and 18 Republican attorneys general still support a Supreme Court challenge to wipe it out.

Democrats should also remind voters in 12 states — Wisconsin, Florida, in particular — that their governors or legislatures have refused to accept the Medicaid expansion that would provide health insurance to millions more. The refusal to accept the expansion is what Jonathan Weiner, health policy expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, called “the biggest case of political malpractice I’ve seen in my life.”

One more thing about this: I have gone back and forth between calling it Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act. While President Obama eventually embraced the term, I think it’s well past time to let it go. The failure to object to the appellation as a dog whistle was and is a serious mistake. As opposed to “Medicare” and “Social Security,” the term allowed opponents a one-word attack based on nothing related to the substance of the program. It was intended as and became a rallying cry for all those offended by that Black Guy who had the effrontery to sleep under the White House sheets. Those opponents needed that dog whistle because they knew that once the intended beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act got a taste of it, the Black-guy-in-the-White-House gambit would begin to lose traction. This is not a new game. Since before the Civil War, moneyed interests have been playing the race card to keep the foot soldiers in line. Now, instead of gray or butternut, they’re wearing red baseball caps, but the flavor is the same.

3 thoughts on “Democrats must talk it up because Republicans don’t anymore, and for good reason

  1. One thing President Trump is good at is keeping the conversation where he wants it to be. The Democrats are not good at fighting this. So, the President is going to Kenosha, WI to meet with law enforcement this week to keep the focus on riots, so as to stimulate his base and to try to keep white working class folks in Rust Belt in his camp, by stoking fears. (like the Willie Horton thing from years past)
    The Democrats should keep the focus not only on Obamacare, but on the enormous expansion of the deficit (most of which pre-dated the pandemic and was due to tax decreases, despite Trump’s pre-election promise to decrease the deficit). The Dems should focus on enormous unemployment. The Dems should focus on the feeble and tardy response to the pandemic and the attacks on science. The Dems should focus on tariffs.
    (The Dems have other issues too, such as the destruction of our standing in the world, getting out of the World Health Organization, the Paris climate accords, but not many voters know or care about these)
    This is not to say that over aggressive policing is not an issue. But, Biden will get 95% of the Black vote anyway. It’s the farmers in Iowa, the industrial workers in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Florida that will decide the election.


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