This happens now and then—I consider posting on a topic, decide, “Nah, I must be the only one who sees it this way,” and then another commentator—one people actually pay attention to—flags exactly the same issue I decided nobody would notice or care about. This time it was James Taranto, one of my favorites, who saw the same disturbing sensibilities that I did in Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank’s bizarre column today.
Titled “Why millennials have abandoned Obama,” the Post’s flakiest liberal accuses young voters of disloyalty to their hero because they don’t want to sacrifice their own autonomy and well-being to help the President’s misbegotten health care bill succeed. It is well-known that a sufficient number of young Americans must sign up for health care insurance—which, for them, is over-priced under the law—to make the rest of the numbers add up. So far, they aren’t doing it. Milbank:
“The administration announced last week that only 1.08 million people ages 18 to 34 had signed up for Obamacare by the end of February, or about 25 percent of total enrollees. If the proportion doesn’t improve significantly, the result likely will be fatal for the Affordable Care Act.”
Milbank then makes the jaw-dropping argument that Obama should take this personally, that it is a betrayal by his troops in his hour of need. After all, Milbank tells us, these were the same voters who elected Obama, seeing him as a transformative candidate. Shouldn’t they be willing to sacrifice now and make their health insurance decisions according what will be best for him?
What??? Of course not! Oh, I have no question that the President thinks this way. It was Obama, after all, whose solution to the depressing unemployment numbers has been to tell business leaders to hire more people, because he said so, and because it would make his policies look more successful. Businesses would be happy to hire more employees, of course, if the stuttering administration didn’t keep changing the rules, laws and assumptions, wasn’t feeding global uncertainty by inept foreign policy, threatening to make energy costs skyrocket, and generally be the least business-friendly government in recent memory. Businesses don’t change their behavior because it helps a President politically, they do it because it will help them make money. The same is true of individuals, young and old. “This will make my life easier and more secure” is a reason to buy health care. “This will help a President I voted for rescue his grand plan that he lied about, managed incompetently and that isn’t working right” is not.
Why does Milbank think it is?
Taranto points out what should also be obvious, which is that the 19 year-old voter in 2008 is 25 today, and may have learned a few things, picked up some responsibilities, and perhaps become a tad disillusioned that the post-racial, hopeful, upbeat messiah who was going to spark peace with “smart diplomacy,” stop incursions on citizen privacy, not appoint lobbyists, make transparency a watchword, deal with the deficit and entitlements, have unemployment back under 7% and the country’s economy humming again, never lie to us—-and give the country a health care law that would lower costs—has been a disappointing flame-out. Once a leader can’t deliver as promised, his or her supporters aren’t obligated to march off the cliff with him, as Milbank seems to think.
From a Las Vegas Review-Journal op-ed, quoted briefly by Taranto:
The White House is desperate to sign up Nevada’s Millennials for Obamacare. With the March 31 enrollment deadline closing fast, the latest figures show that only 22 percent of the state’s Obamacare sign-ups are between ages 18 and 34. That’s a far cry from the 40 percent that the White House wants.
Blame the Obamacare marketing team. Since the exchanges launched in October, the team’s attempts to persuade us to sign up have been inappropriate, incoherent and simply insulting….Blame the Obamacare marketing team. Since the exchanges launched in October, the team’s attempts to persuade us to sign up have been inappropriate, incoherent and simply insulting….Given such pitiful attempts at reaching the young and the healthy, it’s no surprise that Millennials haven’t responded by signing up for Obamacare in droves. In reality, it’s too expensive for too many Millennials — and none of the marketing campaigns have been slick enough to bury this fact.
Obamacare leaves the average 27 year old facing a gender-averaged 47.5 percent premium increase, according to Forbes. Even after subsidies, that’s an expense that many Millennials can’t afford. Perversely, such high costs make it even harder for us to purchase health insurance in the future, when we can afford it. By not signing up for expensive plans now, insurance rates will increase as soon as next year — for everyone. That leaves us with two choices: Buy an unaffordable plan now, or wait and buy an unaffordable plan later.
Our only remaining option is to opt out of Obamacare entirely. If the latest numbers are any indication, that’s exactly what Millennials in Nevada are doing. We know a bad deal when we see one —and we’re not as dumb as Obamacare’s marketers seem to think.
Milbank’s reaction: How disloyal!
I am constantly amazed how many pundits do not seem to have any grasp of American culture of history. In the United States, you see, citizens elect leaders to serve the people’s interest, and get rid of them if they don’t. The mentality that it is the people’s duty to prop up struggling leaders…well, it seems consistent with the disturbing cult of personality that has always lurked beneath the surface of Obama’s support, exemplified by Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s creepy celebrity “We Pledge” video from 2009:
Speaking of keeping pledges, Ashton cheated on Demi, and they’re divorced. Yeah, tell us about pledges, guys.
Luckily, this kind of anti-democratic thinking has never taken hold in the United States, I believe because the nation’s culture of individualism and self-reliance is still too strong- to be subjugated to a charismatic leader’s will. Of our Presidents, only Franklin Roosevelt flirted with personality cultism, but he also was a successful and skilled leader who earned his support, and we were fighting a war. Thank heaven that America’s youthful adults still possess the impatient instincts of their parents and ancestors, who believe that our leaders exist to serve us, and not the other way around. If their policies aren’t working, or don’t suit our needs, then it isn’t a matter of forgoing loyalty. It is a case of assessing broken promises and re-evaluating trust. In this country, leaders are held accountable for failure, sooner or later.
Thank heaven for that.
Spark: WSJ (Taranto)
Graphic: System of Life