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ObamaCare is a disaster. Our enemies could hardly have contrived a more destructive, divisive set-up for the practice of medicine. But if there is any silver lining to this national nightmare, it’s that it offers a second chance to a party that badly needs one.
So let’s seize this opportunity to re-introduce the Republican Party to America.
Some complain that the party’s traditionalism on social issues prevents the GOP from extending its reach to more women, minorities, etc. I disagree.
The problem with the GOP — for some women, minorities, young people, you-name-it — is the perception that somehow, our party is lacking in compassion. That has never been true, and now — in the midst of the ObamaCare trainwreck — Republicans have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to put that canard to rest.
There are good people who are being needlessly and badly hurt by ObamaCare — especially the middle class; those who aspire to economic mobility; and small businessmen. There are people whose livelihoods are being threatened, whose family budgets are being destroyed, whose control over their own medical care is being eradicated. It’s time their stories were told — and with the same moral indignation, urgency, and sympathy our nation has (rightly) accorded the accounts of those who are in need of insurance coverage.
(And yes, I know that there are some conservatives/Republicans who find any sort of “I feel your pain” politics annoying. Sorry. That’s what some people respond to, as those orchestrating Olympic coverage realized some time ago. As Dale Carnegie put it, you bait the hook to suit the fish, not the fisherman.)
Republicans can avoid overt political triumphalism and instead choose outreach to those who, through no fault of their own, are facing needless worry and turmoil because of arrogance and government overreach. We can demonstrate our own humility — in contrast to the pride of those who would presume that a self-selected group can manage health care for 300 million Americans — by asking voters for a second look.
Then, we earn their trust by offering practical, serious, market-oriented alternatives — and train our spokesmen (whether elected officials or pundits) to discuss them in a way that is accessible to ordinary Americans. Here’s a start.
But if we’re going to reach a broad swathe of Americans, tone will be important. If Republicans succumb to the temptation simply to bash ObamaCare and wallow in schadenfreude, voters will be completely justified in feeling that our primary concern is politics, rather than the governance of the country in general or their well-being in particular. Loud or belligerent displays of anger are also out, because histrionics frighten and repel people — and Americans are already worried enough. Rather, the GOP must meet the moment with soberness and creativity, demonstrating that we understand the problems Americans are facing; are committed to addressing them; and have concrete plans for how to do so.
Above all, Americans need at least one party to assure them that, under the right conditions, the American dream not only survives, but can flourish. If Republicans can project this optimism — even as we acknowledge the “wrong turn” that ObamaCare represents — the rewards for the party can be great. Best of all, so will the rewards for America.