Health Care: You've Got to Accentuate the Positive
At the height of World War II, Harold Arlen wrote and Johnny Mercer provided the lyrics for Capitol Records' top Billboard hit "Accentuate the Positive."
Mercer sang it smoothly as only he could, accompanied by the Pied Pipers, with Paul Weston's orchestra. Within months, versions were recorded by Artie Shaw, Bing Crosby with the Andrews Sisters, and Kay Kyser.
The song was inspired by words from a sermon that Mercer had heard delivered by the charismatic Father Divine. The tune's uplifting words gave Americans fighting overseas and those working on the home front a needed lift.
This dismal election season, which thrives on negativity, I'm reminded of Mercer's remarkable interpretation of the preacher's theme of positive thinking. I wish both political parties would take a page from Johnny's message of hope: "You've got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, and don't mess with Mister In-Between."
During the war, the nation put aside nasty partisan differences, albeit the political parties were as divided then as now on fundamental principles. Patriots engaged at sea and in the trenches put aside petty political rancor, with all eyes on the main chance.
When FDR died before victory was won, the nation and its Congress rallied 'round his successor, Harry Truman, without missing a beat. Politics in those days ended at America's shorelines. Arlen and Mercer's lyrics were right on the money: "Have faith or pandemonium's liable to walk upon the scene."
Unfortunately, modern presidential elections are waged not only by candidates in open competitive debate, but also by secret surrogates whose mega-millions are significantly polluting the media, due in large part to an activist Supreme Court whose decision in the Citizens United case has corrupted the democratic process.
Watching and listening to the steady stream of garbage spewed by those on the right and left only reinforces public cynicism, causes more and more to desert traditional political parties for independent status, and for many simply not to vote.
With roughly 100 days to go before Election Day, I recommend the Obama campaign take a positive message approach and carefully explain to voters the many sound elements of the president's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act.
People used to make fun of Ross Perot when he ran as an independent candidate for president. But the one thing he did that made sense was to use easy-to-read charts and graphs to carefully stress his points. I'd like to see the president imitate Perot's educational approach.
Right now, most Americans fail to understand how the new health care initiative works and how it will affect them and their families. It's not too late to spell out the important benefits Obama's major legislative accomplishment will bring to America. As Mercer intoned, "Ya got to spread joy up to the maximum, bring gloom down to the minimum."
Explain that the act is not a "job killer," as claimed by Romney, nor is it a "federal" takeover of health insurance. It will deliver more than 30 million currently uninsured customers to the "private" insurance industry. It will not limit consumers to a voucher or a tax credit, making them subject to the vagaries of the health insurance marketplace, as Romney proposes.
Ironically, Romney, who claims that health insurance should be "left to the states," devised the very plan upon which so-called Obama's national plan is based. When Romneycare was enacted in Massachusetts in 2006, the press was filled with glowing reports of citizens who had formerly depended upon emergency rooms and charity, who could now go to their favored doctor in dignity with heads held high. Polls show that Massachusetts people are very happy with the inspiration for Obamacare.
The GOP and its regressive tea party wing desperately want to kill Obamacare before 30 million new users begin to benefit from it - which will mostly begin in 2014 - because they fear that the newly insured will love it.
Romney proudly claims his first act as president will be to kill the Affordable Care Act. That could easily happen unless voters clearly understand what the law means to their lives. So for that reason, President Obama, I suggest that you "accentuate the positive and latch on to the affirmative."
Paul R. Dunn lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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