WASHINGTON, November 9, 2013 — Through a strange set of circumstances, Communities has exclusively discovered the following talking points memo. Conservatives should not be surprised by its contents, but many likely will. It is clearly a must-read document, offering insights into the progressive mind.
MEMO: Democratic Talking Points Post-ACA Launch
Dear Team Member,
What a nightmare of a week. Kathleen’s testimony was abysmal, and considering the nightmare she endured after the shindig with George Tiller, it was a huge shocker to many of us. And who let that operator talk to Hannity? That couldn’t have been worse.
Also, we all thought Biden was MIA, so that was also awful. Last but not least, how could Clarence Page have been allowed to say it was a “political lie” or Andrew Sullivan to chalk it up to “laziness”?
A team was assembled to address these types of missteps and to lay out a clear vision for us all to follow. Jay Carney was the primary contributor, so you know this is gold.
Here are key critical talking points for all state and locally elected Democrats to deploy in the context of the ACA launch and subsequent bumps in the road. Please make sure to understand all highlighted items, as well as the detail (immediately below/under/beneath the highlighted items). These should be distributed to reliably on-board journalists and news organizations as well. MSNBC network executives, as they were in the room when this was prepared, have already received their official version.
Talk About The Future
This is the area that we OWN. The future is always something to dream about, something filled with promise and hope, and an area conjuring up visions of possessing all the things we want to have today but do not (which is due to Republicans). Focusing on what is possible is exciting and interesting. It’s the ultimate tool in the bag of tricks. This is best done in general terms and in a way that really can’t be countered. It also is a beautiful rhetorical device.
It is VERY important to not discuss “today.” Today is merely a quick stopping point on the way to a much better tomorrow. Today is factual. Today is boring. Today has problems. Tomorrow is not yet here and therefore proves a much better conceptual destination.Folks want to know about Tomorrow and how great it will be. So vision casting here is eminently more captivating than merely describing what is actually seen.
Contrast this with the conservative’s approach. For the crazy right-winger, it is impossible to consider Tomorrow without also understanding what occurred Today and Yesterday. History and facts inform them and then influence plans for the future. This is SUCH buzz kill. The progressive is not bound by such constraints. For us, history and facts are to be celebrated and studied, but are to have nothing to do with Tomorrow.
We also need to make clear our helpful intentions, highlighting specific events that will result from certain actions. In other words, we must illustrate the WAY we will get to the future we want. They work hand-in-hand. For example: “The Affordable Care Act will provide access to health care for all Americans.”
Notice this is free from discussing HOW it will occur; just that it WILL occur. And THAT is the important part. Most folks are not interested in the specifics and the policy aspects that go along with the HOW. Citizens will support (and vote for) intent, but will FLEE in-the-weeds discussions of the details.
Conservatives completely flub this as well. For the right wing, the HOW is important. In addition to their obsession with today and yesterday, they will want to evaluate if the intended results actually occurred. We are not downers and will not ever do that. NO ONE will win a national election with that approach. So don’t do it.
Substandard Plans Are Now In The Past
The coverage guidelines (don’t say requirements!) implemented by the ACA are the fulfillment of a comprehensive Patient’s Bill of Rights and exemplify the highest possible standards of care. Most Americans have purchased coverage (or have coverage through their employers) that is not as good as it could be. Through no fault of their own, and almost always due to their lack of understanding, they have been satisfied with insurance that is not ideal. That has now changed. We have created the ideal. Everyone will come to understand that it’s what they need.
One of the revolutionary aspects of the ACA is that inadequate plans are now illegal. A consortium of the brightest and most experienced attorneys and medical-rights individuals toiled for months to delineate precisely what a comprehensive solution actually is. And now the American people will be getting it …whether they like it or not. Some wanted the sentence to end this way and some did not, so we’ve left it up to your choice.
It’s possible that there may some pushback on this point, as a small number of folks may bridle at the idea of others knowing what is best for them. Do NOT mock this perspective; rather, point out the benefits of the improvement and appeal to the experience and wealth of knowledge focused on their behalf.
Republicans Have Given No Other Options
Everyone knows about the Affordable Care Act (absolutely NO mention of Obamacare – it’s disrespectful and redundant) but NO one knows about Rand Paul’s or Paul Ryan’s or Ryan Rand’s or whoever’s proposal. Certainly no one who is listening. So it is the PERFECT thing to repeat. Over and over.
The occasional question may come up, such as “Why can’t insurance companies sell policies across state lines?” (as if any any products are successfully sold that way) or “Haven’t state or federal health insurance requirements already had a huge impact on coverage and policy costs?” (As if those weren’t accomplished with the very best of intents for the greatest amount of folks).
The best way to respond is to repeat a statement similar to this: “The Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land for years and no Republican proposal of national scope was ever even voted on by Congress, let alone passed in a bipartisan manner.” The truth of that statement (don’t mention the number of House-passed bills that Senator Reid quashed) stands by itself and the questioner will move on.
Highlight The Successes
There ARE successes. The website WAS launched on time. Folks HAVE signed up. Premiums HAVE gone down, for some. Quality HAS increased for many. Coverage HAS been given to previously uninsured people(s). These must be emphasized and restated.
Anecdotal stories are obviously the very best way to emphasize the triumphs. If those stories can be retold in the presence of actual voters themselves, that is even better, so work hard to find one constituent story (or from neighboring/nearby districts/states). Democrats tell GREAT stories. Republicans do NOT. Use this to advantage.
Conservatives consider all successes in the context of costs or as the result of a trade-off, so make sure this is NOT done. Not everything need be analyzed to the extreme of having to consider alternatives or additional consequences of a particular action or policy. Good stuff has happened. Period.
Do NOT Blame George Bush
This little piece of politial magic seems to be approaching its sell-by date, so it’s better to avoid it. Better now to blame tea partiers, tea baggers, the Republican House, out-of-touch conservatives, or supporters of Ted Cruz. No one will question you.
Please forward all questions via papyrus, yeletype or cuneiform documents to the DNC chair. Responses will be forthcoming – by term’s end.
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