There are a lot of misleading ads running right now, but one in particular irks me for the artful way in which it misleads viewers into thinking Republicans want to take away their health care. It’s also a great example of a certain genre of reprehensible campaign ads that try to win votes by frightening the vulnerable through slandering the innocent. So I thought I’d examine it more closely to show you the techniques used so you’ll understand how you’re being played, not only by this ad but by the many, many others that are similarly sneaky.
This TV spot is sponsored by a leftwing PAC called Future Forward USA. To play on the viewers’ emotions, it pairs dramatic music with images of worried-looking Americans of various backgrounds. It starts with a narrator telling us that 133 million Americans have pre-existing medical conditions. That’s likely true, but it doesn’t mention that the vast majority do have coverage for them, such as employer-provided policies, Medicare and Medicaid.
The narrator then says, “This Administration and Senate Republicans want to overturn laws requiring insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions.” That’s only technically true. They want to overturn one specific bad law (the ACA, or “Obamacare”) that increased consumer costs while providing inferior coverage due to its one-size-fits-all government-mandated nature. It’s mostly gone now, but we need to remove the remaining shards so it can be replaced with something better that helps those who really can’t take care of themselves while using market forces to improve quality and lower prices for everyone else.
I’ve been in Republican politics for decades and can honestly say I’ve never met a single fellow Republican who dreams of taking away health care from people with preexisting conditions. We used to say that the parties mostly agreed on what needed to be done, we just differed on how to accomplish it. Now, if you disagree with the liberal approach (a giant government takeover), it means you want people to get sick and die. No.
Incidentally, I also know zero Republicans who want to take away your grandparents’ Medicare or slash their Social Security and make them eat cat food. I’ve been seeing campaign ads that make those claims since I was a small child. I’m now old enough for Medicare myself, yet after all that time, Medicare is still here and Social Security payments have only increased.
Next, the narrator says, “They’re rushing a lifetime appointment through the Supreme Court to change the law through the courts.” Conservatives don’t believe in “changing laws through the courts.” But they do believe it’s the duty of courts to strike down laws that are unconstitutional. Even so, Judge Amy Coney Barrett and President Trump both insist that they have not discussed how she would rule on any future case, including Obamacare. And her appointment is not being “rushed.” The timeline is entirely in keeping with historical precedent.
Next, the narrator tells us, “70% of Americans want to keep protections for pre-existing conditions in place.” I’m surprised it’s not 100%. Again, I know of no one who wants to take health care away from sick people or seize Tiny Tim’s crutch and sell it on eBay. The argument is over how to do it effectively, cost-efficiently and constitutionally, in a way that helps those in need without destroying the system for everyone else.
It ends with an entreaty to call the White House and Senate and tell them to “stop playing games with our health care.” Nobody thinks it’s a game (see above.) It’s a serious issue that is being taken seriously by Republicans. Far more seriously, I might add, than Obamacare was when it was rammed through in the middle of the night and Nancy Pelosi told us they had to pass it first to find out what was in it.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the PAC that created this ad is supported by deep-pockets leftwing donors, including about $3 million from the leftist dark money group, the Sixteen Thirty Fund and a million dollars from super-rich former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
This ad particularly incensed me because of its subject matter and misleading nature, but it’s hardly unique. Sadly, it’s one of far too many political ads that are based on the old cynic’s definition of advertising: it’s the art of disconnecting people’s brains long enough to sell them something. Or in this case, of poisoning people’s brains long enough to get them to vote a certain way.