I’ll never forget the day our baby girl was born. Despite all the horror stories I had read online about birth and risks and complications (yes, I know, I’m an idiot), everything largely went fine.
Later on that day, they came to do some tests. You know, the typical battery of exams to ensure that everything’s fine with your mini-you. As they did the hearing test, she failed in one ear. “No worries,” they told me, “we’ll just test that side again tomorrow.”
Tomorrow came, and they tested again. Once again the right ear instantaneously checked out, and the left ear … nada. My heart was in my throat at the mere thought that something could be wrong with my child.
Finally, she cleared the test. “Probably just fluid,” the nurse told me. I breathed a sigh of relief.
I thought about that day as I listened to Jimmy Kimmel tearfully share the story of his baby boy, born with a life-threatening heart condition requiring immediate attention.
Stories—especially about kids—are powerful. They draw you in, tug at your heart, and maybe even change your mind about something you thought you believed. In this case, Kimmel’s drive for sharing this very personal story was simple: "Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you'd never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition,” he said through tears. He continued: “If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make.”
In other words, had he and his wife not been rich, and if Obamacare didn’t exist to protect them, had they been poor, their son would have been left to die.
That’s an entirely false (see here and here) and intellectually lazy equivocation to Obamacare. Charles Hurt put it well: “He just had a kid and the kid nearly died and he wants you to know that if you are not for bloated federal bureaucracy, socialized medicine, higher taxes and tons of more debt piled onto your grandchildren, then you are not a ‘decent person.’”
(For the record, Kimmel’s child was treated at a non-profit Children’s Hospital with a multi-million dollar charitable budget, proving—as Ben Shapiro points out—that private charity actually works.)
But all this isn’t the point of today’s piece.
My point is that Jimmy Kimmel, like so many others on the left, use storytelling incredibly effectively. So effectively, that millions of Americans now think that with the House repeal of Obamacare on Thursday, millions will have to choose between groceries or healthcare; between a roof over their heads or cancer treatment. (And before we move on, this “repeal and replace” bill that the House passed on Thursday does precious little to actually change the law, and it’ll be even more useless when the Senate gets through with it. In other words, chill out American Left. And to the American right: really?)
The left has been storytelling for decades. And you know what? It works.
The Five’s, Dana Perino, hit the nail on the head this past Wednesday night when she pointed out that while the American left is extremely adept at telling personal stories that prompt anger and then action, the American right is often all too focused on numbers and statistics … and not stories. She’s right—we don’t tend to talk about the very real human impact behind the job loss numbers, the tax increases, or the premium hikes.
Even researching for this article proved my point. People aren’t writing these stories. With a few sparse exceptions (see here and here) we on the right are largely writing articles and doing studies on the statistics. And don’t get me wrong—those are critical. We need to understand what the empirical data says about the effects of a very expensive, very far-reaching law.
But here’s a thought: when we’re dealing with an American population that will largely buy into Jimmy Kimmel’s reasoning hook, line, and sinker … shouldn’t we reconsider our tactics? For example, sure—there’s plenty of data to suggest that Obamacare hurt far more people than it helped. But what does that mean for actual human beings? Let’s look at a few examples:
What does an over $4,000 hike in annual premiums mean to a family of four? What’s the expense to your family? What do your children go without? How many hours do you have to spend away from them working a second job to make ends meet? Mind you, this is on top of the fact that deductibles went up under Obamacare too. That means you’ve got to figure out how to cover the additional thousands of dollars in out of pocket expenses you’ll incur before you even get to use the insurance you’re paying through the nose for. If your household makes an average income, and you’re living paycheck to paycheck like over half of Americans currently are—where are you going to get these thousands of dollars a year? What happens when one of your kids gets sick before you can figure that out?
What does the loss of a job mean to a working single mom? Do you go on food stamps, find a relative to live with, or even live out of a car?
What does it mean for a struggling family when their Obamacare marketplace insurance options have been reduced to just one provider, like what’s happening in Arizona? Do you have to move if the costs are just too high?
What happens if you make “too much” money to be helped by Medicaid, but too little to afford a plan under Obamacare? What happens if YOU get sick?
We’re not talking about an anecdotal few here. MILLIONS have seen their premiums increase enormously—in some cases by over 100%; many of these same people are seeing massive deductible increases. Hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. Millions are stuck in a coverage gap. Millions now only have access to ONE insurance provider. Millions lost insurance altogether thanks to Obamacare’s stringent regulations.
If supporters of Obamacare can drag out every cancer survivor, child and single mother who may have been helped by a certain provision of Obamacare, why aren’t we talking about each and every one of THESE myriad stories of people HURT by Obamacare? What, are we just supposed to sit here and buy the idea that for some to be helped, millions must suffer?
And as Republicans cheer a repeal bill that a) doesn’t address the core problems and b) won’t make it through the Senate even if it did, and as Democrats (predictably) hyperventilate--people are still suffering. And will continue to suffer.
It’s time we told their stories.
(Have a story to share? Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show (TheBlaze Radio Network, M-F, 3-5. ET). She can be reached at: email@example.com; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree