Proponents of Obama’s health reform law have long despised the “Obamacare” label, since it conjures up the ugliest images concocted by its critics: Obamacare is Big Government run amok; a threat to the American way of life; a symbol of all the ways Obama is scheming to deprive you of your liberty.
But in an interesting turnaround, the Obama campaign will today call in supporters to embrace the Obamacare label and start using it themselves. From an email set to go out to supporters:
Today is the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.
Since then, the law that almost everyone calls Obamacare has been doing exactly what the other side has hoped it wouldn’t do: It’s been working.
It’s about time we give it the love it deserves.
Let everyone know: “I like Obamacare.”
This is the first campaign communication to supporters embracing the term.
Opponents of the law have had fun today mocking the fact that Obama himself is not holding any events to commemorate the law. And some Dems do worry that visibly associating him with health reform further politicizes the debate and distracts from efforts to remind the public what’s actually in the law.
But the simple fact is that this law is Obama’s number one domestic achievement. It is his. It is Obamacare.
There’s no denying that public opinion has not turned around on the law the way many of us predicted it would. But most Democrats know that their best course of action is to continue owning it, anyway. Presuming all or some of the law withstands the coming court challenge, which is hardly a sure thing, this debate is really only beginning, and could stretch on for years or decades. Truthfully, if proponents are going to win this debate, it may take that long.
As Obamacare implementation point man Don Berwick told my colleague Sarah Kliff today, health reform is already initiating a slow transformation of the American conversation about health care, an awakening of public understanding of the importance of expanding coverage and making health care more accessible. As Berwick put it, still more time will be required for the public to begin understanding the next major phase of implementation, which hasn’t even yet begun.
Embracing the Obamacare label is partly about acknowledging that the term has entered our language, and partly about disarming the stereotypes in hopes of having more success in focusing the public on the provisions in the law and how people benefit from them. I don’t know whether reformers will win the argument, or if they do, how long that will take. Major reforms aren’t easy, and aren’t easy to sell.
But look: Dems own it. Dems own Obamacare.