Some on the left have placed the blame for the Affordable Care Act’s continuing unpopularity on the steady opposition of Republicans. While there is no doubt Republican tactics have hurt support for the law, this doesn’t change the fact that the Obama administration has always done a horrific job selling it.

The main problem is the administration’s messaging surrounding the law is completely disconnected from what the law actually does. If you want to significantly expand private insurance, like Obamacare does, your message should be: “private health insurance is good, but it is tragic some people can’t afford it.” That logically makes sense. It presents a problem combined with the correct solution. Or if you want to push for single-payer your message should be “private insurance companies are evil, greedy, and wasteful.”

The Obama administration decided to use the message from the latter but to try to sell the former.

The administration stole much of the messaging from the single-payer movement to try to co-opt that significant political energy but with no regard for making it intellectual consistent. The result was a political mess.

Horror stories about insurance company abuses can be a great way to rally people, unless you are trying to rally people behind a bill that would reward insurance companies with more customers. This just leaves people feeling betrayed or confused.

The end result is Obama and his allies are basically trying to sell the idea that insurance companies are monsters, so we must force people to become their customers.

Politically if you are not willing to adopt a solution that really fixes the problem then at least try to re-define the problem so your proposed solution seems justified.

Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at