The old advertising adage holds that “It’s not the sizzle, it’s the steak.” Rightly or wrongly, I’ve understood this to mean that, even if a brilliant advertising campaign gets a product into consumer’s homes, if the first purchasers end up not liking the product, you’re not going to get a second wave of purchasers. Instead, you’ll get a second little swell, followed by a trickle, followed by nothing but a dead-in-the-water product.
Eugene Robinson, however, who has been one of Obamacare’s most stalwart cheerleaders, thinks sizzle is all one needs when it comes to evaluating Obamacare’s merits and popularity. In a rah-rah column celebrating Obamacare’s triumph, Robinson boasts about how the numbers of uninsured have decreased by millions. (For purposes of this post, we’ll ignore that when it comes to Obamacare most of the millions who bought Obamacare on the exchanges were the previously insured who were kicked off their beloved policies by . . . Obamacare. We’ll also ignore the fact that people didn’t voluntarily step up to buy this sizzling new government product; they were forced to do so. And lastly, we’ll also ignore that the largest number of new insureds are now covered under Medicaid, which isn’t real insurance. Picayune details, right?):
A new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that, despite all the problems with the HealthCare.gov Web site launch, 12 million people who previously lacked insurance will obtain coverage this year. By 2017, the year Obama leaves office, the CBO predicts that an additional 14 million uninsured will have managed to get coverage .
And so it goes for another 14 boastful paragraphs: The numbers don’t lie! More people have insurance! Republicans are mean-spirited idiots! (Robinson is writing for the WaPo, so his language is more refined than that, but the point is the same.) What I didn’t see anywhere in Robinson’s victory dance was a discussion about the steak behind the sizzle.
Yes, people have dug deep into their pockets to buy mandatory sizzle. But by pretty significant numbers, these purchasers don’t seem thrilled with the product. The previously insured, having been forced into the system as official subsidizers, have come face-to-face with the Obamacare steak behind the sizzle and learned that Obamacare is a maggot-ridden, rotten piece of gristly meat. Their insurance premiums and deductibles have sky-rocketed and their doctors have waved them goodbye. The really sick ones, the ones who used to survive thanks to a carefully-built, delicate infrastructure of special doctors and hospitals, have found themselves flung, communist-style, back into the general ward.
Nor is there any indication that America’s poverty-stricken sick people are benefitting from the middle-class subsidizers’ downgrade to Castro-style medical care. I pointed out a few weeks ago that the word from the trenches is that the really poor have no intention of changing their ways. They like that they pay nothing per month (as opposed to a low, subsidized fee), and they’d rather get the best doc at the ER instead of the worst doc at the regular clinic. In other words, nobody wins, but the middle class loses.
Robinson seems quite convinced that the American people will be so happy that they have insurance that they won’t care that they don’t have the health insurance to go with it. The Obama administration, having forced upon them the sizzle, can go home happy without providing the steak.
Is Robinson right? Have our American expectations become so low that we’re happy merely to own a product, never mind that it doesn’t work as promised? Are we so desperately afraid of being castigated as some sort of “ist” or “phobic” (racist, classist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic) that we will no longer protest when our representatives provide us with fraud and bad service?
Currently, the greatest threat to small government is the rising numbers of illegal immigrants who Democrats hope will create a permanent lock in the Democrat vote. (And the RINOs go along because the Chamber of Commerce wants cheap labor.) The current guesstimate seems to be that, if amnesty passes, Democrats will get about 8 million newly-minted, locked-in-Democrat formerly illegal alien voters. This 8 million number works, though, only if other Americans continue to stay home.
Think about it: As of 2012, America had around 313 million people, of whom about 126.5 million turned out in 2012, a presidential election year. In 2008, best estimates were that there were about 227 million Americans who could have voted. (I couldn’t find 2012 numbers on potential voters, but I assume they’re similar.) In other words, around 100 million people stayed home in 2012.
Are all of these “stay at homes” Democrat voters? Or are there tens of millions of latent Republican voters staying home? (We know Evangelicals retreated to their homes on election days after the 80s ended.)
If the majority of non-voters like our country as it was (individual freedom, not government servitude), and wish that it could be that way again, are the events we’re facing sufficient to rouse them? If that giant can be awakened, the 8 million “bought and paid for” illegal immigrant votes will be as nothing.
Or more cruelly, are the 100 million silent Americans silent because they truly don’t care? Are they are so sedated with their continuous pop culture diet (a la the proles in 1984), that nothing can rouse them.
When I heard Trevor Loudon speak, he correctly said that Republicans don’t win votes by trying to convince Independents to side with them. Instead, they win votes by exciting their base, because an excited base becomes a parade, and others want to join in. That’s why he suggested that whoever wins the Republican primaries, or — even better — whoever’s even thinking of entering the primaries, boast a full ticket, from president down to the last cabinet member, that offers something to everyone in the base.
I continue to think that’s a brilliant idea, although I’m not invested in the ticket he proposes. It’s enough that we offer a package, not a lone man whom the drive-by media will savage. I do wonder, though, whether an exciting package, coupled with a hunk of fetid, rotten, maggoty Obamasteak, will rouse the sleeping 100 million Americans who can’t usually be bothered to get to the polling booth. And if those two things — a dynamic ticket and a horrifying “fundamental change to America” — are enough only to sway the malleable independents, rather than to reach the stay-at-homes, will the independents’ numbers be sufficient to beat back, not just the 8 million illegals, but the predictable votes from dead people and those with multiple personalities.
All of which gets me back to Robinson’s article: Is his confidence that sizzle is enough to declare Obamacare a success the result of cognitive dissonance and denial, or does Robinson have a much more accurate reading of the American people than conservatives do?