(Update: If you missed Rachel’s Thursday night segment on this, it’s definitely worth your time.)
In recent months, the right has pushed a morally bankrupt argument that seems ugly even by contemporary conservative standards. A series of right-wing entities have urged uninsured Americans to stay that way on purpose, not because it would help them or their families, but because they should help Republican efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
The idea is, you’ll go without access to basic care, and you’ll be one serious ailment away from years of bankruptcy and hardship, but you can take solace in knowing you’ve helped unhinged conservatives with a partisan axe to grind. Maybe you’ll get a note someday from some Republican thanking you for “taking one for the team.”
But this week, a far-right outfit called “Generation Opportunity,” working under the assumption that young Americans are idiots, launched the above video. If the goal was to get people talking, it’s worked quite well – most decent people are amazed Republicans could be this creepy on purpose.
For those who can’t watch clips online, we’re talking about a minute-long video in which a young woman “signs up for Obamacare,” goes to an OB/GYN appointment, and instead of being examined by a medical professional, she’s terrified by someone in a nightmare-inducing Uncle Sam costume.
“Don’t let government play doctor,” the video tells viewers. “Opt out of Obamacare.”
I’ve followed the political debate over health care policy pretty closely for the last 20 years, and I’m reasonably confident that we’ve reached a new level of stupidity. I’m not sure whether I should feel irritated by this effort to mislead the public with garbage or feel sorry for the misguided conservatives who are making fools of themselves by deliberately releasing this.
First, let’s get the obvious question out of the way. What the hell is Generation Opportunity? Yahoo’s Chris Moody reports:
Generation Opportunity, a Virginia-based group that is part of a coalition of right-leaning organizations with financial ties to billionaire businessmen and political activists Charles and David Koch, will launch a six-figure campaign aimed at convincing young people to “opt-out” of the Obamacare exchanges. Later this month, the group will begin a tour of 20 college campuses, where they plan to set up shop alongside pro-Obamacare activists such as Enroll America who are working to sign people up for the insurance exchanges.
Generation Opportunity intends to host events at college football tailgate parties festivals, where “brand ambassadors” (read: hot young people) will pass out beer koozies that read, “opt out,” pizza and literature about the health care law. Some events may have impromptu dance parties with DJ’s, complete with games of Cornhole and competitions for prizes, organizers said.
Oh, good. The Koch brothers think young adults are stupid. How heartening.
But let’s not brush past the truly bizarre substance of the ad itself. There’s literally nothing in the Affordable Care Act that stands between physicians and patients, and there’s literally nothing in the law that would interfere with how an OB/GYN exam would be conducted. Indeed, Obamacare makes routine, preventive care in this area of public health – mammograms, pap smears, etc. – available to women without a co-pay, which is something to be celebrated, not condemned.
If, however, Americans are looking for policymakers who want to force government into OB/GYN examination rooms, they’re not hard to find. The Koch brothers have all kinds of allies in the Republican Party who’ve pushed for state-mandated, medically unnecessary ultrasounds – including invasive, transvaginal ultrasounds – to satisfy the GOP’s social agenda.
In this case, Generation Opportunity has managed to be both ironic and idiotic simultaneously, a rare feat to be sure.
Update: My MSNBC colleague Irin Camron had a great piece on this earlier.