Robert Creamer: ” The details of policy will not decide the outcome of the health care reform battle. In fact, the policy outcome itself will be decided largely by the interplay of four emotions that will drive the outcome of this essentially political battle: fear, anger, hope and inspiration.
The principal weapon of those who want to maintain the status quo is, as always, fear. The Republicans and their allies in the private health insurance industry are cranking up the fear machine like the producers of a good horror movie. They warn of a “government takeover of health care,” “socialized medicine,” “rationing” and the ever-frightening prospect that a “government bureaucrat” might stand between someone and her doctor — or a needed medical treatment…Fear immobilizes. And fear of the unknown crushes the desire for change, even in the midst of conditions that cry out for change. It has been used throughout history by those who profit from the status quo, and it becomes especially important when — as is the case with health care today — most people believe that the current system should in fact be changed…Anger, on the other hand, does not immobilize like fear. It energizes action. In politics, anger is almost always a necessary precursor to change and hope. American voters would not have been willing to take a chance on the change and hope offered by the Obama campaign in 2008 if they were not already furious with the administration of George W. Bush and its failed stewardship of our economy and foreign policy. That anger stemmed from the sense that everyday people could no longer look forward to better lives in the future. Obama resolved that anger into the hope that change could bring them a better life…And it means that, for Members of Congress, we have to channel that anger to induce fear — the fear that failure to accomplish change will be more politically costly that voting for reform. In the end, the winning message to most Members of Congress is that health insurance reform is the high political ground. That is the message we must deliver to every Member over the August recess in no uncertain terms…
Hope and change will not win out if we don’t engage populist anger. But success also requires that we paint a clear, positive picture of a future where ordinary Americans no longer have to worry that they may not have access to health care.
People aren’t engaged and motivated by statistics or “policies.” The prospect of an “insurance exchange” will not inspire people to take a risk on change. To win this battle we need to get people to imagine what it would be like if they no longer had to worry that if they got sick and then lost their job, they might also lose their health care. We have to remind them that 14,000 people are losing their health insurance every day — and they could be next. They have to visualize the insurance company CEO who gets the $73 million golden parachute and received a salary of $5,585 an hour ($12.2. million per year).
President Obama’s ability to inspire is an enormous political asset. Being inspired is basically the feeling of empowerment — empowerment to overcome odds — to overcome fear. In the same way a blast furnace turns iron ore and coke into steel, inspiration transforms fear and anger into hope.
We need to inspire the country that change is possible and will bring about a better health care system. We need to inspire Members of Congress that they can overcome their fear of insurance companies and special interests, and make history. We need to keep our own base inspired in order to keep them mobilized.
In fact, our ability to compete with the insurance companies and the merchants of fear is entirely contingent on our ability to keep our base engaged and energized. That is one of the critical reasons why, in order to be successful, a health insurance reform plan must include a strong public health insurance option.”
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