While Republicans have been using their opposition to Obamacare as a campaign canard since before the bill was even authorized by Congress, in the era of the no-longer-so-novel coronavirus, this staple of the GOP’s campaign arsenal has been increasingly ineffective in maintaining support from even the party’s base.
One would think that it would be a no-brainer that, as millions of people lose their jobs — and their employer-provided health insurance — due to the pandemic-related business shutdowns, attempts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act and its protections for pre-existing conditions would not be looked upon favorably by those whose lives and health now hang precariously in the balance as the COVID-19 virus runs amok in this country.
Somehow that message never filtered down to those people running the Oklahoma Republican party’s ad campaign against the ballot proposition that would expand Medicaid coverage in the state and subsidize Obamacare premiums, as the bill was originally designed to function by providing federal incentives to states to help subsidize the insurance costs before the GOP began trying to dismantle the legislation.
Before Tuesday’s primary election when the Medicaid expansion proposition came up for a vote and was narrowly passed by a slim 50.5% margin, Oklahoma Republicans used every scare tactic in their playbook to dissuade voters in their state from enjoying the benefits to which all but 13 primarily GOP-controlled states already have access.
One of those tactics was the shibboleth of “socialized medicine,” a formerly frightening invocation of cold war communist apprehension in describing the universal health care systems that every civilized nation in the world besides the U.S. already uses.
Naturally, the Oklahoma GOP decided to prominently feature the poster woman for Democratic Socialism — New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — in their propaganda campaign to prevent people from having access to affordable health care.
Some of the advertising against Oklahoma's Medicaid expansion measure centered @AOC, warning that "radicals like" her would get "more control over Oklahoma's health care."
The measure passed, which I believe makes AOC the biggest health insurer in Oklahoma. pic.twitter.com/xLG3tbgMGY
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) July 1, 2020
With the Republicans’ scare tactics having failed to prevent the Medicaid expansion proposition from passing, Representative Ocasio-Cortez took a taunting victory lap on Twitter this morning, rubbing the passage of the ballot measure in the faces of those who tried to turn her into a healthcare scarecrow with a sarcastic jibe at the Oklahoma GOP.
While Medicare expansion is still a far cry from the universal healthcare guarantees that Americans deserve through some sort of Medicare For All program, we can expect to see Republicans continue to use pejoratives like “socialized medicine” to fight against any program that would require their wealthy donors to pay their fair share of taxes to support the public good, including the health and safety of the workers whose labor helped them achieve their outsized investment balances.
Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez rightfully celebrates the passage of the Medicaid expansion ballot initiative in Oklahoma as a sign that not only is that particular scare tactic no longer effective at a time when people are losing their jobs and their insurance coverage at a record clip.
Now let’s make the changes we need to make to ensure that every American gets the health care that they need at a price that they can afford.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.