The Corner

Free Advice for the GOP

We now know that millions of people will lose their existing health-insurance policies thanks to Obamacare. Already hundreds of thousands of people have gotten letters from their insurance companies letting them know they’ll lose their coverage. Millions more are bound to get similar letters, particularly when the small-business mandate kicks in. They should also get another letter, however. And that letter should come from the GOP, either from Reince Priebus or, better, from their local GOP representative, senator, governor or whichever local politician makes the most sense. And that letter should, without stridency, hyperbole or annoying appeals for money, explain to them that this is exactly what Obamacare was designed to do and precisely what Republicans predicted would happen. If I was writing it, I would say something like, “The president vowed to you on numerous occasions (see attached document) that you could keep your insurance and that you would save money under the Affordable Care Act. This was untrue. Whether it was a well-intentioned mistake or a more deliberate deception, what the president and his party told you was flatly untrue, and we said so at the time.”

I then might go on to promise something like “the party will do everything it can, within its power, to alleviate the burden the Democrats have imposed on you and the country. We are of course limited by the fact that the president and his party control the agenda in Washington. If you think we’re due for a change, we’d love your support. If you think these changes are good for you, your family or the country, then obviously we politely disagree. If you think — as we do — that there’s got to be a better way, we hope you’ll give us a fresh look.”

I have no idea whether the names of the recipients of those cancellation letters are public. If they are, that’s great. If they are not, the data-mining team at the RNC should be able to figure out who got them. Either way, the RNC should strike while the iron is hot and passions are high. Few things focus the mind more, politically speaking, than having a broken promise cost you and your family money, time and security. 

Obviously, I’m no expert. But it seems to me that relying on the media — even social media — has diminishing value. Most of the debates in Washington seem abstract and are obviously partisan. The failures of Obamacare and their real-world consequences are creating a real-world opportunity the GOP needs to take advantage of in creative ways. Many of the people receiving these letters are surely Democrats and non-voters. That is all the more reason a Republican appeal should be made with civility and respect and be as targeted as possible to the specific circumstances of each recipient. If that’s already happening, that’s fantastic. But I haven’t heard about it.

Just a few hundred thousand votes in a handful of states cost the Republicans the election in 2012. Turning those numbers around should be the GOP’s first priority.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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