Race and the Fight Against Obamacare

By | June 29, 2012

With resistance to President Obama’s health care law culminating with the Supreme Court deciding the fate of the most important social policy since enactment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, the failure to win popular support for health care will be studied for many years to come. Racism has clearly emerged as a significant factor underlying opposition to the law and must be a part of any honest attempt at understanding how some Americans formed opinions about the Affordable Care Act.

For twenty years, the majority of Americans favored reforming the health care system. However, unlike during former President Clinton’s reform efforts in the early 1990s, support for the Affordable Care Act was not only sharply divided along ideological grounds, but by race as well. Former President Carter sparked a national debate with his September 2009 comments noting that racism was partly motivating tea party activists who staged widely-covered angry outbursts at town hall meetings hosted by members of Congress and anti-government protests that featured racially offensive signs denouncing Obama and the health care bill.

While President Obama refuted Carter’s claims, questions about the role of race continued. Indeed, in November 2009, 54 percent of adults indicated that race was at least a minor factor driving the opposition to President Obama’s policies. But since then, more studies have revealed the ugly truth behind why some are vehemently against “Obamacare” and see its passage as a threatening symbol of the power of the nation’s first black president. (Huffington Post)

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