Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Well, that didn't last long. A controversial program involving an email account and a request to citizens to forward any and all fishy information about health care reform to white house staffers has been killed. The program was meant to counter many of the false rumors floating around on the internet about health care reform (death panels, going blind before an eye doctor will see you, biweekly rectal inspections by the Obama gestapo) and the justification was that there's just too much bad information moving around out there too quickly for this administration to keep up with it on their own.
While I applaud the Obama administration's unprecedented effort to take advantage of current technologies in communicating and interacting with the public, we need to be honest here: this program was a pretty bad idea from the start. First of all, health care reform isn't a competition. This is supposed to be about improving care for everyone, not just those on the winning side. The GOPers in congress who are trying to kill this are doing a fine job of dividing the public and making this an "us against them" fight. The last thing you want to do is play into their hand, but that's exactly what this program did. It created a clear distinction between good guys and bad guys. But there aren't really any bad guys save for the select few starting these rumors. Most of the ones in opposition to the program are just not understanding it. They don't need to be vilified, they need to be educated.
Secondly, its obvious that something needed to be done to counteract the bad information out there. But in spite of all the protesting and disruptions, the town hall meetings were really the most effective and least confrontational way of doing this. The administration should have gone down that road from the start. Most of the people falling for these rumors are going to be represented in some way at these meetings and will voice their misguided opinions there. To simplify what I'm saying, there was no reason to go out hunting this information because it was going to find the administration on its own.
The health care opposition, either artfully or accidentally, laid a devious trap for Obama and he unfortunately fell into it. The cancellation of this program comes at a good time; before Congress returns to session. Hopefully by the time they actually get settled in and get back to talking, we can avoid any distracting after effects from this plan's short misguided lifespan. Sphere: Related Content