As it deliberates constitutional issues posed by “Obamacare,” the U.S. Supreme Court probably is using the proper name for the health insurance reform act, but no one else is. I'm not even sure what it is.
As children, we taunted verbal attackers with the chant: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” The sentiment was laudable, but the truth was questionable. Words can hurt a lot. Words intended to hurt a lot also can backfire.
Consider the “Cheesehead” label hung as an insult on Wisconsin football fans some years ago by rival team backers. Rather than hunkering down and trying to ignore the name hoping it would go away, Wisconsinites enthusiastically adopted it. Now strange cheesy hats and slogans abound. Residents of the Dairy State are proud to proclaim themselves Cheeseheads.
“Obamacare,” coined by right-wing media, was embraced by Republican strategists as a derisive term they thought surely would help them gain followers as they try to overturn the administration’s health care reforms. It’s not working quite that way.
One of the Democratic Party’s chief strategists, David Axelrod, recently said, “Hell yeah, I’m for Obamacare.” He said that when stating his belief that millions of people will become strong supporters of the new health care provisions once they all go into effect and are fully understood.
Like Axelrod, many rank-and-file Democrats are starting to use the Republican term, proclaiming at every opportunity they are proud Obamacare fans.
Anti-Obamacare T-shirts have been around for a while. Pro-Obamacare T-shirts are on the horizon. Obamacare headgear? That may be a difficult design problem.
The elevation of Obamacare to the Supreme Court caused many Americans who previously were uninformed about the provisions of the law to become aware of the benefits. We’ll have to wait until June or July to learn whether the court approves or strikes down the law or its key parts. Some Democrats smell a political win no matter how the decision goes.
The court consists of five members who usually lean in Republican directions and four who tend to favor Democratic Party positions. If the court scraps Obamacare, Democrats believe they will be handed a winner in the presidential election campaign as they blame Republicans for stripping away health benefits for millions who need a guaranteed way to get insurance. If the court allows Obamacare to stand, the Demos will claim that the GOP’s most erudite adherents backed the Democrat’s health care plan when it was thoroughly examined at the highest level.
Which T-shirt will you be wearing?