Hooray for Obamacare!

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The New York Times reports that even liberals are now referring to the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare”:

Whether Democrats can change a pejorative into a positive is unclear, but after three years on the defensive, they have resigned themselves to the fact that “Obamacare” has become the popular name for the sweeping social program, and they are trying to spin it in their direction. Particularly since the Supreme Court upheld the law’s constitutionality, Mr. Obama and his allies have tried to take ownership of the term.

“The right created it and spits it out as an epithet; it has that tone, a sneering quality like they’re hanging it around his neck,” said Jeff Shesol, a former White House speechwriter under President Bill Clinton. “But it has so taken hold, it reached that level of saturation that it’s very difficult for Obama or the Democrats to escape it. So why not then try to appropriate it?”

I’ve always been fine with Obamacare as a nickname, much the same way that Reaganomics is a nickname for supply-side economics. And whether embracing it converts the term Obamacare from a pejorative into a positive depends entirely on Obamacare itself, I think. “Neoconservative” started out as a pejorative term and did just fine when neocons made it into a popular doctrine. Conversely, “welfare” used to be so plainly positive that conservatives urged other conservatives not to use the term. But that changed when conservatives made welfare itself suspect.

Likewise, if ACA eventually becomes popular, then Obamacare will be a positive term. If it fails, then it will fade away. It’s that simple.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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