Friends, I’ve been feeling down for a couple of weeks.
As Obamacare was surging to success, I couldn't quite delight in it. Something niggled at me. That's why I wrote this piece. The hoops through which Barack Obama has had to go through just to get anything done is without parallel in US political history.
But then it was revealed that Pres. Obama asked the major networks for primetime space to speak to the nation about ACA reaching its most generous enrollment targets, and what this meant for ordinary Americans, alone among industrialized nations denied the security of access to basic healthcare. The networks denied him.
Now I’m riled up. This disrespect shown Pres. Obama by the Big 3 networks was the last straw.
The media went on a jihad after the failed rollout of healthcare.gov, loudly trumpeting every failure, every glitch, every frustrated user of the website. The blandishments were endless and incessant. For weeks, newscasts led with the problems faced by the website, as if the website were the totality of the Affordable Care Act. It would feature every detractor of Obamacare on its newscasts, would consign the entire enterprise to dismal doom. As AP so famously put it, it would "take a miracle" for the law to reach its target.
But reach its target it did. In fact, it has surpassed it, to the consternation not only of the right wing wurlitzer, but of the perspicacious segments of our failed media experiment, the supposed gatekeepers of all that is newsworthy.
For all the attention which the supposed failure of the law received, it hasn't received even one tenth of the attention for the success beyond all media imaginings.
- Seven million people—and counting—have received plans through the federal or state websites.
- Three million people aged under 26 have been able to stay on their parents' insurance.
- Upwards of nine million people have been able to get qualified health plans directly from insurance companies.
- And four to six million people have been able to access expanded Medicaid.
These are millions of real people, getting real help, knowing health security for the first time in their lives. And they don't fit the narrative of failure. They are as nothing to the media.
The media as it existed in the 60s and 70s no longer does so. It no longer serve the public good, but its corporate paymasters. The idea that US media could be consolidated into 4 or 5 major multinationals and not have it affect coverage has been shown to be a will-o-the-wisp.
Obamacare—and yes, we should call it that, proudly—is the greatest expansion of the social safety net since Medicaid and the Great Society. Its success deserved a primetime address, most especially after the calumny heaped upon it for months, both by the partisan opposition and the "objective" press.
That the networks deemed it not worth the time to give the President of the United States airtime speaks much as to their parlous state.
I'm sure that if some winsome white teenager had been kidnapped, it would have led the news, and been frontpaged on all of their media arms.
But this is the thing: they no longer matter.
Pres. Obama held his announcement, and without the need to appeal to the entire populace, his turned it into the first campaign rally of the 2014 elections. He was partisan, he was scathing, he was mocking, and he was big.
And the story coming out that the Big 3 denied him prime air time—in which he would have had to have been more conciliatory—makes them out for the small and partisan hacks they've become.
The pollsters all agree: the GOP has a built in advantage in enthusiasm for 2014.
They seem to think that 20 million people who have access to affordable healthcare will not vote, or vote for a party which wants to strip them of that security.
NPR came out with a poll which showed that the GOP's advantage among older voters has slipped precipitously, from 21 points 2010 to 10 in 2014. The fact that even oldsters are trending away from the GOP lends a dimension to the desperation of the corporations. If seniors no longer go for the GOP in overwhelming numbers, their days are at an end.
I don’t think the polls reflect what’s going on. Because of Obamacare, 20+ million people either have healthcare for the first time, or have a better deal than they had. They will NOT allow that to be taken away.
Jimmy Fallon can mock all he wants; these are real numbers, real people having real security.
The media is into news-porn: the latest abducted blonde girl, or the Malaysian airline. But we see through them.
I think as November draws closer, the polls will reflect what’s really going on in this country, and it will shake the powerful and their handmaidens to their cores.
That’s why Charles Koch penned his diatribe; I’m sure he has in-house pollsters, and I wager he doesn’t like what he sees. A man secure in his own power would not stoop to make his case before the unwashed masses. Harry Reid has done a signal service by bringing them into the light in his own version of the Philippics, casting them as the gravest threat to American democracy in the Republic's history. He and his brother David have been used to being the powers behind the politics. Now that they're being drawn out into the limelight, they realize the attention is to their detriment, and try to cast themselves as victims. Poor oppressed billionaires just trying to guide the little people into what's good for them.
As Pres. Obama says over and over: don't boo—organize. The Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited campaign contributions is not cause for rending of garments, but for concerted political action. Nothing else will suffice.
Find your local Democratic candidate. Give money if you can, time if you can, both if you're fortunate enough. Mitt Romney had all the money he could ask for, and still lost. Nothing defeats the power of one voice, multiplied.
This is the struggle of our young century. It's taking place all over the world. Will the powerful rule? Or will ordinary people take their lives and fates into their own hands, and decide their own destinies?
On this anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's assassination, we must reflect on how far we've come, and how much further we have to go. The arc of history bends towards justice, but only through effort.
The powerful feel their time is threatened with an end. Thus their desperation. It's up to us to make that a reality.