President Obama’s campaign ran on one word: Change. It was quick, easy to remember, and resonated with a lot of people. Obama was a great candidate who also kept his cool and always knew exactly what to say. But the big question in the media was whether or not people would vote for a black man. While he tried not to make race an issue, the press kept asking him about it even before the controversy with Reverend Wright. But it didn’t matter. He had a strong message, and the people voted for him because they felt he was the stronger candidate to lead the country.
This time though, he’s losing the media game which he played so well during the campaign.
It recently came out that Conservatives for Patients Rights put out a misleading advertisement about England’s health care system. Republican members of Congress are telling people to be afraid of a government run health care system. Democrats have started a “war room” so they can fend off attacks on the proposals they’re putting out there. All in all, both sides have spent over $57 million dollars on advertisements.
Whether you are for or against what President Obama is proposing on health care, I think most American’s would agree that the rhetoric which has been put out there has disenfranchised our country. Personal freedom relies on being able to collect information in order to make a decision which they feel can improve their quality of life. That is a fundamental truth in democracy and it is not being practiced.
This has been seen in the town hall meetings. So far my favorite has been where a women asked Senator Specter a loud but pointed question, and later admitted on FOX News she didn’t even listen to the answer. Not to mention all the screaming which has drowned out any debate which is of course the point of town hall style meetings. These circuses and the media rhetoric which has taken place around the healthcare debate has boiled up so many emotions it has been hard for people to sit down and think about the issue.
In the fast paced media, and the thirty-second sound bites that fill up their time, it’s always hard to cut through the ridiculousness that is out there. The news channels that are supposed to give people their information have only been talking about the disinformation that is being put out to the public.
There has been nothing on the actual problem. Hardly any talk that while the reforms being proposed will cost one trillion dollars, doing nothing would cost three times that. Or that if insurance rates keep rising, hardly anyone will be able to afford any sort of health care.
When I was at Muhlenberg College I worked at the school’s polling center and every year we did a quality of life survey. One year we asked the question about how Route 22 (a major state highway) should be taken care of. The overwhelming majority said they wanted the state government to deal directly with the problem instead of handing it off to a private company. American’s aren’t afraid of government, but unfortunately the media is focusing on the people who are. That focus has infused the debate with false information that has scared more people about the reforms which need to take place.
So now, politicians are trying to save political capitol. It’s looking like anything that passes in Congress which is called “health care reform” will be considered a victory for Obama; Whether it is actually real reform or not.
So to the press: Get your act together. Politicians: Do your job. People: Stop being afraid.