As we get closer to March 31 -- the last day people can sign up for the Affordable Care Act (sort of) -- the number of appeals from Democrats and nonprofit organizers for people to sign up seems to grow exponentially. However, there's something odd about many of these marketing pitches. They look a lot like things that politicians in the NBC TV show Parks and Recreation have already done to promote their own policies and campaigns. We can stop wondering whether people in the White House and Congress are more like people in House of Cards or Veep or Scandal, because apparently Obama's role model is none other than Leslie Knope. Here's the evidence.
Senator Sherrod Brown is holding a news conference in Ohio with Eddie George, a well-known football player in the NFL who started his career at Ohio State and won the Heisman trophy there in 1995. It's basically exactly like this.
Speaking of Detlef Schrempf, the Obama administration has also tried getting younger people interested in signing up for health insurance by building a March Madness-themed Affordable Care Act bracket (fun?), complete with GIFs and many a "share" button. (Getting young people signed up in the new insurance exchanges is essential if Obamacare is to succeed. Without getting these people in the pool -- the people least likely to need to go the the doctor frequently -- premiums will be high.) The Administration even filmed a short PSA with college basketball coaches Roy Williams and Geno Auriemma.
Leslie Knope got Pawnee high school basketball legend "Pistol" Pete Disellio to endorse her city council campaign. (Pawnee still airs the game where he scored the game-ending dunk every Friday on public access television.) States have tried similar endorsements from local celebrities and institutions. On March 18, "Get Covered Illinois" announced they were partnering with The Onion to try and get "young invincibles," also known as people between the ages of 18 to 34, to sign up for health insurance. One of the stories on the Onion was titled, "Onlookers Gape As Daredevil Crosses Street Without Basic Health Insurance." They also did marketing pushes on BuzzFeed, Pandora, Facebook, Twitter, AOL Video and YouTube, which they say drove 41,300 users to their website — 100 percent of which were new visitors. They have also produced PSAs with local celebrities like retired Mexican soccer star Jared Borgetti, Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz, Chicago actors Yuri Sardarov, Christian Stolte and David Eigenberg and Top Chef contestant, Carlos Gaytan.
In October, the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and ProgressNow Colorado Education teamed up to create ads they hoped would appeal to the young people they hoped to sign up for health insurance. Their best idea involved the portmanteau "Brosurance."
They tried to go after other similar demographics too.
Colorado apparently thinks that the quintessential "young invincible" is actually Jean-Ralphio.
A few weeks ago, President Barack Obama went on "Between Two Ferns" to push Obamacare.
Since Perd Hapley doesn't actually exist, this was his next best option.
In Philadelphia, the insurance company Independence Blue Cross has held an "Enroll-a-Thon" this week, trying to get residents to sign-up for health insurance. This involved, according to the New York Times, "a 16-hour marketing blitz on a local television station during daytime talk shows; a tractor-trailer, the Independence Express, parked in a shopping center parking lot in Bala Cynwyd; and an event at Love Park, featuring free coffee, near City Hall."
In Parks and Recreation, Leslie Knope goes on daytime talk show, "Pawnee Today" to promote her newly published book, which coincides with her city council campaign. It does not go very well.
The White House has also just asked Parks and Recreation stars to push for Affordable Care Act sign-ups themselves.
Amy Poehler sent a tweet saying #getcovered.
Adam Scott made a video talking about the Affordable Care Act for Funny or Die.
Joe Biden did some one-on-one health insurance consultations while visiting Phoenix, Arizona last week. Unfortunately, one of the people he met up with was ineligible, since she already has Canadian health insurance. Because she's Canadian. Sending Joe Biden out to do Obamacare PR is kind of like getting L'il Sebastian to keynote the landmark event of your career.
If L'il Sebastian were still alive, we assume he would have made an Obamacare commercial himself too.