Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Update: White House Reads My Blog...Shifts Strategy

Or so I'm going to tell myself.

But no, this Washington Post article signals an intelligent shift, I think, in the way Obama will try to sell health care reform. As I wrote about here, he's not going to prevail by focusing on the details. His best hope to pass legislation will be to focus on the moral imperative. Here's a snippet of what I wrote:

"I think Obama's greatest argument for health care reform rests on his ability to convince America this is the right thing to do...the Christian thing to do, if that's your guiding principle. Obama excelled during the campaign at getting people to imagine themselves as part of a greater whole. That's what he needs to do here. The average voter has a hard time envisioning how this will help themselves, even if it does so in the long-term. No, it's far easier to get the average voter to envision it helping the millions of uninsured adults, seniors and children who would immediately benefit from reform. And that should be the focus. Doing what's right. Helping those who need help. Caring for the sickest, weakest, most wretched among us. It's a patriotic argument, it's a religious argument, and it's a moral argument. We must do what's right."

According to the article, Obama will now do just that...focus on the basic issue of doing what's right. It's easy for critics to complain about the costs, or to fabricate horrific tales of what life under "Obama-care" would truly entail, but they should no longer get to do so without first reconciling the inherent conflict with the basic principles of helping your fellow man. Health care reform does not have obvious benefits for those who are presently satisfied with their own situation, but undertaking questions of morality means thinking less about oneself and more about others. I say this with no mockery intended, but the implicit question should be, "What would Jesus do?" The answer may not be the Obama plan as presently constructed, but the question should at least prompt its opponents to act in good faith. The goal should not be to defeat the plan at all costs, which certainly seems like the GOP strategy, but rather to find a way to pass sensible legislation that helps those who need help.

That's what Jesus would do.

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