I read an article on Slate this morning about psychologist Jonathan Haidt who looks at how politics and psychology connect. He has observed that the Repubs are good at selling their ideas in an emotional way, and the Dems tend to explain how things work. The Republican way is more effective. People respond much more strongly to emotional pitches than factual ones.
One of the reasons I voted Democratic in 2008 is that I wanted to see health care reform get implemented. What we got is a weaker form of what we need, but at least we got something.
Had the Dems been willing to do an emotional sell on this, which would have been easy, we not only could have gotten a stronger law passed, but it wouldn't be so easy for the Republicans to attack it.
In the current health care system, if you are uninsured and get a catastrophic illness, we, as a country, will care for you and help to cure the disease, if we can. This is a freebie. If you take advantage of this, and you can afford insurance, you are a leech, a freeloader, a bum. You are receiving welfare. And since no one can know if they will need this care, everyone who goes without insurance, who has the means to buy it, is freeloading off the rest of us who pay our own way.
Further, this only covers catastrophes. So for those people who are uninsured, some by choice, and some because the insurance industry won't sell them insurance (so much for the free market) there is no preventive care, no care for chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. We'll save your life, but we won't do anything to help you be healthy or live longer.
So you've got freeloaders and grifters everywhere you look. The people who think they can get by without health insurance, who really have insurance that rest of us are paying for, and the insurance industry who only wants to insure healthy people, because they make a lot of money from them, and not so much from people who need help to stay healthy and/or alive.
The purpose of the health care reform law, also known as ObamaCare, is to take the freeloading out of the system, to force people to pay for their own insurance. Yes, we are forcing them to do that, because we don't want to pay for them. Seems to me these are very conservative values. In fact, before the Republicans went crazy, these were their values, this was the health care reform they proposed. It's the law that Republican Mitt Romney implemented in Massachusetts. This is not in any way amazing, because it's a very rational approach to health insurance. The fact that it isn't already in place nationwide (and it must be nationwide, because people can move to different states very easily) is one of the big weaknesses of our social and economic system.
This idea that everyone should pay their own way is the "mandate." It's not a tax the government is imposing on people, it's a tax that life imposes. You could even see it as god's will, if you're a religious person. The randomness of health. No one knows what their future holds, or the future of our family and friends.. You could get hit by a car while you're walking down the street. Really how can you say that's your fault. Or you could have cancer right now and not even know it. The basic principle is that if you can afford health insurance, you must buy it. And if you're in the health insurance business and someone wants to buy a policy from you, you must sell it to them. Or if you insist that you can't or don't want to, then the government can sell it to them (something the insurance industry got removed from the law, known as the public option).
This goes back to the post I wrote a few days ago about how campaigning is a 365-day-a-year proposition, and not just during election years. The government must always be communicating with the electorate, and vice versa. So we know what we, as a society are doing, and why.