|Geniuses at Work|
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Left adopts shock tactics in Obamacare repeal fight
Hat Tip to Kevin Collins
The following article appeared on politico.com on May 9th
Mock funerals and possibly even shipping people’s ashes to GOP lawmakers are among the brazen moves the left is embracing.
One newly formed progressive super PAC is planning to cart caskets to Republican lawmakers' districts and hold mock funerals for their constituents. Another activist is encouraging protesters to ship their own ashes — should they die without health care —to GOP lawmakers. And other progressive groups are planning graphic "die-in" protests as they work to derail GOP plans to repeal Obamacare.
Democrats, already frothing with anger over losing the White House to Donald Trump, are seething anew over the advancing Republican plan to gut Obamacare. Now, many on the left want to translate that fury into political tactics meant to exact maximum pain on Republicans.
Now, some liberal groups and activists are hoping to use macabre theatrics to gin up voter frustration toward Republicans over what Democrats view as a disastrous change in health care policy.
It’s a far more in-your-face tack than that being taken by more establishment organs of the Democratic Party, and the liberals behind it say that’s exactly the point.
“We must be far more visceral,” said Jason Haber, a Manhattan real estate investor who started a super PAC that he said will host mock funerals — including “tombstones, coffins, even eulogies” — later this month for “the constituents that will be killed as a result of losing access to health care.”
Haber, who has worked in New York Democratic politics, said “in the age of Trump, nothing short of blunt and brute force will work as a counterweight,” adding, “We can’t win based on the merit of our ideas but rather on the way in which we deliver that message.”
In another effort going viral, an American University student has begun collecting requests from people to ship their remains to members of Congress — should they die without access to health care. The student, Zoey Jordan Salsbury, told the Washington Post that she’s received a lot of interest in shipping remains to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Indivisible, the group of activists that have flooded Republican town hall events to protest the proposed Obamacare repeal bill, is also planning to stage "die-ins" at the offices of lawmakers who supported the GOP health care bill.
To some progressives, the tactics are a break from what they see as the timidity Democrats have displayed on health care politics in the past. And they're more in line with the level of anger that many Democrats feel as they cope with Trump in the White House and an all-Republican-led government.
But the party is divided over the tactics its allies are using. Veteran operatives say the over-the-top theater could backfire just as political momentum on health care has shifted toward Democrats.
"Staging a funeral has a lot of shock value, but runs the risk of overplaying the hand and turning off swing, moderate or independent voters who would otherwise agree with us on this issue," said Caitlin Legacki, a Democratic strategist who worked on the 2012 campaign of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
T.J. Rooney, former chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, said mock funerals will have the same impact on the right as "the ghouls who carry pictures of aborted fetuses" have on the left.
"To those affected and their loved ones, they live the uncertainty every day and the hyperbole is offensive," he said.
Mainstream Democrats, though, do plan to barrage the airwaves and public events of Republican lawmakers who backed the GOP bill, known as the American Health Care Act. The proposal narrowly cleared the House last week and is headed to the Senate, which is expected to make dramatic changes to the measure.
Save My Care, a pro-Obamacare advocacy group, launched more than $500,000 worth of television ads in five districts of Republican lawmakers who backed the measure. They're countering supportive ads launched by the American Action Network, meant to shore up Ryan and his allies as energized Democrats attempt to sweep back to power in 2018.
Similarly, a former top health care adviser to President Barack Obama, is preparing to travel to various congressional districts to hold his own series of town halls. They're meant to highlight GOP lawmakers declining to meet publicly with constituents after voting for the health care bill.
"I hear hourly from Americans terrified of what will happen if the AHCA becomes law," the official, Andy Slavitt, said in a statement announcing the tour. "It doesn’t matter who they voted for. They are now deeply frustrated that the person that represents them in Congress will not engage in an open discussion about the merits of a bill they supported."
Obamacare's most ardent backers are calling for a withering campaign to weaken Republicans who back health care plan.
"I hope the ads run against the Republicans who vote for Trumpcare are the most brutal we've ever seen in politics," tweeted Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, on the eve of the House vote to back the bill.
Most of the efforts on the left — from both activist groups and the Democratic Party — focus on the 16 congressional districts carried by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, but represented by Republicans who voted last week to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
That’s where “Flip the House Now,” the super PAC created last weekend by the Manhattan real estate investor Haber, intends to focus in planning its first round of “funerals” — possibly as soon as a House recess planned for the end of May.
Haber, who has never run a PAC before, said he has reached out to “several political consultants and field organizers who will help with the execution of the digital and grass-roots plan.” While he intends to self-fund to get the PAC up and running, Haber said he is meeting with progressive donors this week, and also plans to tap “a considerable donor and high net worth list” that he’s assembled through his real estate business.
Republicans so far are welcoming the over-the-top resistance from Democrats.
"It’s sad that far-left progressive groups have resorted to using cheap political stunts to prop up their failing health care law," Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement. "House Republicans fulfilled a promise they made to the American people and Democrats will have to answer for why they stood idly by while Obamacare wreaks havoc on our health care system.”