Daily Dose: Healthcare, values, and freedom

September 19, 2017

 

Take a look at every email you get from your Democratic representatives about the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act. More importantly, look beyond the issue, beyond the fundraising "ask", and look at the words and ideas. Here's an example at one I received recently - they all use the same language:

 

"ALERT: MILLIONS will lose coverage...

I'll put it bluntly: Senate Republicans are CLOSER than ever before to repealing the Affordable Care Act. 

The newest plan -- supported by Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan -- would leave millions of Americans without coverage.

There's MORE: Important protections for patients with pre-existing conditions would be eliminated. The stability of our health care system would be compromised and premiums would SKYROCKET."

 

Even in the press, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer had this to say:

 

The Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, warned that the new effort is a “red siren moment for the entire country. No matter how many ways Republicans try to dress it up, this bill is even more dangerous than it’s predecessors,” Schumer said during a press conference on Monday.

 

Democrats are evoking a "fear of loss" strategy. They believe (wrongly) that if you tell people the facts about an issue, imply a dire consequence if they lose something they have received from Democrats (like the ACA), that people (all people, not just progressives) will respond rationally - and align themselves with the Democratic cause. The consistent adoption of this strategy has proven ineffective for Democrats time and time again - yet they persist. Why? Because, as I posted on social media yesterday, research shows that even progressives tend to deny science that doesn't fit their worldview - such as cognitive framing. 

 

Here are the important points from cognitive science and psychology to know about what motivates and inspires people:

 

1. Connecting with people's deeply held values and beliefs is far more motivational than telling them the facts on issues. 

2. When connecting with people's values and beliefs, presenting a hopeful future that people can believe/take pride in is more motivational than a fear of loss message.

 

As I've pointed out many times, the vast majority of us are hard-wired for empathy. It's one of our critical evolutionary emotions, and humans would not be a successful species without it. Especially in times of crisis, we see strangers going to great lengths, and even putting themselves at risk, to care for the well-being of others.  And that's fundamentally what healthcare is all about - especially universal healthcare.

 

Our progressive values (based primarily on empathy) mean that we care for others, and feel a moral responsibility for others. Even in people who consider themselves hard core conservatives, there is empathy existing within family groups. 

 

This means that our freedom comes with a moral responsibility for the freedom of other people. And very simply put, if you do not have access to healthcare, you cannot be free to pursue any decent quality of life. Without healthcare, there is no freedom. You will constantly be in fear of both physical and economic loss (sometimes catastrophic). Our values, as Americans who have always cared about the people in our communities and families, tell us that we are not free if our friends and neighbors are not free. 

 

Healthcare is freedom, and you are not truly free without it. That's something people will believe in, and fight for.

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