What do people want?

from ben heine on deviantart


For a while now we’ve heard stories like this one which indicate that some percent of Obamacare opponents wish it was *more* liberal (single payer, etc), and I’ve believed it. Heck, that’s probably the category I’d put myself in. 538 looks at the numbers around Obamacare, and concludes that the “people who dislike Obamacare because it isn’t liberal enough” group is much smaller than supposed. According to the data, the biggest group of people who say Obamacare isn’t liberal enough is…republicans. And the people who say Obamacare isn’t liberal enough don’t necessarily want it to be more liberal. WTF?


Basically, there’s a group of people in this country, large enough to show up in national polling data for years on end, who both think Obamacare isn’t liberal enough, and that it’s too liberal. This chunk of the population is large enough to put either the pro- or anti- Obamacare side in the majority, depending on how you divvy em up, and we’ve been misinterpreting them. This is just the latest seeming paradox in ACA polling- for years now (years!) Obamacare has polled worse than the Affordable Care Act (even though they are synonyms), and Obamacare is less popular than all of its individual provisions.


Fanette Guilloud

it just doesn’t make sense


I honestly don’t know what conclusions to draw from all this. It all feels a bit like Poe’s Law, which is the idea that satire is impossible to distinguish from actual extremism unless you know the authors intent. I’m not saying that anyone is being disingenuous in the way they respond to pollsters, rather that simply seeing respondents say they want Obamacare to be “more liberal” in no way actually means they want it “more liberal”. In other words, a desire for “more liberal” Obamacare might come from a person at any point on the political spectrum, and might reflect a desire for healthcare policy to move more to the left, or more to the right. Without prior knowledge, that statement can be interpreted in myriad ways.


To me, this almost feels like one of those “political discourse is dead and impossible” kinda moments. We’ve been arguing about Obamacare for years now, and we still can’t even find common ground on what basic terms mean in the discussion. That’s depressing.


Does anyone have any thoughts about this? Is political conversation dead?


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