It does not further the cause of health-care system reform to suppose that if only people have the correct information, if only people are properly educated, then they will do the rational thing and support change and reform. A very large number of the American citizenry do not think or make decisions rationally. They respond emotionally and the response we are seeing now seething through the rage at Townhall Meetings is one of fear. Fear and anxiety are pervasive in this time of profound economic disturbance. Anger too abounds, on the part of the little-guy, or average Jane who gets bailed out of nothing while financial institutions and their over-paid execs gobble up the very taxes Little Guy and Jane pay. Unfortunately, the opposition has once again been able to frame the conversation. So now, instead of there being the opportunity for real discussion of the issues in the health-care debate, we are distracted by the framing of the issues with such false concerns as “pulling the plug on Grandma,” “death panels, ” and “socialism.”
At Senator Sharron Brown’s townhall meeting on August 12th in Columbus, Ohio, two of the opposition raised concerns about “governing by anecdote,” referring to the inclusion of the stories of individuals for whom our health-care system is a disaster. The charge that you are “governing by anecdote” is a bit more sophisticated than their yelling “Socialist plot” to be sure. But that is precisely its danger. In the university setting where Sen. Brown held his forum, all researchers are most suspicious of anything anecdotal as having little or no statistical value. Again, this is an attempt at re-framing the issues to avoid any real discussion by planting an irrational sense of caution about reform.
Is there not someone in the Democratic brain trust with sense and sophistication enough to understand this “question framing” strategy and taking pre-emptive countermeasures? I mean, how about just hiring the guy who wrote Don’t Think about an Elephant?