I have a story to tell my new fellow Republicans and conservatives (new, as I’m a recent convert) that illustrates how the arguments we find compelling are likely to be perceived differently by the public they — oops, we — wish to persuade.
The story comes from my father, Hubert Yockey, who has despised Communism all his life and who was educated at Berkeley in the 1930s. He had sufficient exposure to draw his conclusions at a tender age.
Soviet Communists — in the 1930s, I believe — wished to convince their workers of how downtrodden the U.S. worker was by capitalism and democracy. The Communists showed the workers newsreel footage of picketing union members and police, thinking their people would be outraged by the cops beating their fellow proles.
But they weren’t. Apparently people who live in a police state accept getting beaten up by the police for any reason and no reason as ordinary, and this did not draw their attention at all.
Instead, the Communist workers saw the capitalist workers and instantly cried out: “The shoes! The shoes!” The Commies did not have shoes, or at least not shoes of the same sturdy quality that the capitalist workers wore.
It’s going to go that way in the debate over universal health care. Defenders of the current health care system, and proponents of the Republican plan, are telling stories of delays and rationing. They are crying “socialism,” believing that the uninsured and under insured will see things as conservatives do and reject government-run Obama care.
But I think the conservatives using this approach will be hearing a modern version of “The shoes! The shoes!”
People who have no access to health care, and people struggling without sufficient health care, will be saying, “you mean soon I could have some?” Because when you can’t afford it, you already have delays and rationing. Practically any alternative doesn’t just look better, it is better.
And as a recent convert to fiscal conservatism after a lifetime as a liberal Democrat, I assure long time conservatives that the word “socialism” does not hold any dread for liberals. Most of them have no idea what the word means. Liberals have simply not done as much homework as conservatives have on economic theory! Worse than that, they don’t believe in themselves as individuals the way conservatives do! So enough of them are sufficiently desperate that they are willing to trade the greater opportunity of capitalism, with its very real risks, for the stagnation of socialism and its false promise of security.
And it doesn’t look like many liberals will realize in time how desperate Obama has made them by destroying the economy in as many different ways as he can. They will be frightened into believing “any port in a storm,” and go along with his plan to make the U.S. a socialist country.
Because if universal health care isn’t another one of Obama’s trademark bait-and-switch promises, then it’s one of his bait-and-hook plans.
And what about liberals who do understand what socialism means? They are the truly dangerous ones. They want the power that socialism gives to the few over the many, and they like the fact that in socialist systems it is difficult to break their grip on that power. Ironically, it seems that it is citizens of socialist countries who become truly conservative according to Obama’s definition, in the sense that they fear change and oppose it.
Being out of money, flabbergastingly in debt, poised for hyperinflation, at war in two countries, and being threatened by a third has not stopped Obama from going forward with his health care plans. The scare word of “socialism” holds no terror for the majority of this country because they don’t understand it. The scare scenarios of delays and rationing look pretty good to the tens of millions of people who now experience a much more deadly form of delays and rationing.
If fiscal conservatives are not able to explain to people who are barefoot — in terms of health care — how the free market that hasn’t gotten them shoes before will get them shoes under the Republican plan, I believe Obama and the Democrats will have very little trouble getting their plan passed.