Monday, February 22, 2010

How To Sink The Health Care Reform Effort

I've got to admit, I'm pretty dang fired up about this health care debate. I can no longer watch John Boehner and Jim DeMint' talk about health care reform without screaming at the TV. I just can't help but feel that these guys are using sleezy tricks to undermine an amazingly important process.

As a therapeutic measure, I've gotten it all out of my system by ranting below. You'll notice that there aren't a lot of citations - yeah, that's not good. But, if I spent time filling in citations, I'd probably end up in the emergency room fuming. That, and my day, if not week, would probably be shot.

But I don't want to just rant, to rant. I'd actually like your input on this. Specifically, I'd like someone to calm me down and explain to me what I'm missing. How is the Republican leadership not acting in their own best interest (to fire up their base, and get more votes next election) - and how are their actions the best for the country?

Please, educate me.

OK, here's the rant...

How To Sink Health Care

Step #1: Create A Toxic Narrative

The first goal is to create a message that can be used to poison the debate from the very start. This message should be extreme, such as the Democrats want the government to take over health care or the Democrats want to construct death panels. You've got to be careful about crafting this message because it needs a slight shade of truth to it (but only a slight shade) - enough that the media is forced to wrestle with it on National TV. More importantly though, it needs to resonate with your constituency as obviously plausible. In other words, you've got to find a way to repeat back to them, something they want to believe in. It helps if the message is pithy.

As a bonus, if the idea is extreme enough, the folks who want reform will write it off as mere crazy ramblings. By the time they realize that your base is eager to believe it, it's too late.

No matter how many times your toxic narrative is refuted, or the other side addresses your points don't let up. No matter what you do, don't let logic and reason get in your way.

The only time it's OK to agree with the other side, is when they agree with you. If they say there's promise in tort reform - congratulate them on being bipartisan. If they differ from you, stick to your narrative.

Step #2: Keep Moving The Goal Posts

The other side of poising the debate is that you've got to always be just a few steps away from being ready to work with the other side. If only they'd drop the public option. Or include tort reform. Or put the negotiations on TV. Or started from a clean slate. Really, you want to work with the Democrats, but you just can't, because they're being unreasonable.

The key, here, of course, is being able to seamless shift from one concern to another, as they are addressed. Whatever you, never give up ground without gaining something.

So you want on TV and put your demands in stone, and then they were met - have no fear, you can still move the goal posts. People have short memories. And besides, you can always find that one more thing the other side needs to do.

Why It Works

These two steps compliment each other well. The toxic narrative, with its extreme accusations explain why you can't in good conscience compromise. The moving goal posts mean that you're just around the corner from a solution, and if only the Democrats would give even a tiny bit, we'd all win in the end.

Using this strategy, you can do more than kill health care. You can sour an entire nation towards its government.

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