Commentators such as Thomas Edsall, Charles Cooper and Michael Crowley have blamed protests against Obamacare on a GOP effort to stir up “angry white males.” It all goes back to Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy,” they say. The main problem with such arguments is that they don’t make one bit of sense.
Start with “white males.” Actually, females make up a lot of the people who are protesting. Survey data show that a plurality of women oppose health-care schemes before Congress. And the focus on race is strange. Of course non-Hispanic whites account for much of the opposition: they make up 76 percent of the electorate. In any case, the key variable is age, not race. Senior citizens are the strongest opponents, and for good reason: Obamacare would cut hundreds of billions from Medicare. The president claims that seniors don’t have to worry since all the savings will come from greater efficiency. But in the entire history of American social policy, has a cut that big ever failed to affect services? (If you can think of an example, please let me know.)
The references to Nixon are invalid. A previous post dealt with “The Southern Strategy.” And the notion that Nixon sought to cut health and welfare programs is jaw-droppingly preposterous. Forty years ago this month, he proposed a guaranteed income, which he acknowledged would “cost more than welfare.” As for health care, President Clinton said that his own plan “reflects the pragmatic approach that President Nixon took in 1972 when he asked all American employers to take responsibility for providing health care for their employees.”