Does it seem to anyone else like Democrats — including the President — passed the Affordable Care Act and then promptly stopped talking about it altogether? If my read on the situation is right, that’s because they perceived the law polls very poorly. But
1. If you’re going to lose an election, lose with your back straight. Either voters dislike your voting for the law or they don’t. If they don’t care how you voted, there’s no need for you to be silent about it. On the other hand, if they dislike it, and you believed in the law when you passed it, then stand up for it. You didn’t run for office just to win re-election; presumably you ran because you wanted to achieve something positive, and you thought the law was positive. If the voters do care and you didn’t believe in it when it was passed, your opponent is still going to hound you for your vote when you run for re-election. So what’s the point in hiding from it?
2. Whether something polls well or poorly isn’t an objective fact ‘out there’ in the universe; whether it polls well depends a lot on whether people whom Americans like — such as President Obama — are out there selling it. Which they aren’t.
3. The ACA as such polls poorly, because it’s been demonized as ‘Obamacare’. But some of the individual provisions — no discrimination against pre-existing conditions, lengthened coverage under one’s parents’ health insurance — poll well. In many cases I think it’s just that people don’t know what’s in Obamacare. In other cases, like the mandate, people genuinely seem to hate it. That seems like a failure of education: people need to understand that there are only a few ways to make health coverage universal without the market unraveling. Democrats have been *terrible* about selling the mandate.
4. Do you care about ensuring that everyone has health insurance, or don’t you? We really need to make clear that that’s what this comes down to: we believe in universal coverage; they don’t. If you believe in universal coverage, something like a mandate is unavoidable. (Expanding Medicare to everyone would have been another option, but insurers never would have stood for it.) Lately Republicans seem to be facing up to this, and at least admitting that they don’t care about universal coverage. If nothing else, that has the virtue of consistency. But it’s morally repugnant.