Back in November, I wrote Misusing the language on how the terms “reform” and “conventional wisdom” are misused in politics to throw in value judgments where they don’t belong. Along similar lines, today I’ll look at the common usage of the terms “Obamacare” and “GOP” in the media’s coverage of politics, two terms that I won’t use.
“Obamacare” is a pejorative used almost entirely by opponents of health care reform. Recently, some health care reform supporters have embraced this word and are publicly proclaiming their support for “Obamacare,” but on the whole, its use usually indicates a negative bias that ignores the substance of this issue, for under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, health insurance coverage is to be expanded to the majority of uninsured Americans, abusive insurance company practices are to be curbed, and health care delivery is to be improved through an emphasis on prevention and early detection.
In the past, when major programs have been launched to expand the social safety net, the name of the president who had them enacted wasn’t attached to them. No one called Medicare “LBJcare” or Social Security “Roosevelt Security.” As such, the media, if it wants to address this issue in an even-handed way, has no business calling health care reform “Obamacare.” The most appropriate terms to use are health care reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or the Affordable Care Act. nextooze.com is now using “Obamacare” as a news topic at nextooze.com/tag/obamacare?cid=PROG-TagPage-HomepageHotTopic1-Obamacare Does that show a lack of even-handedness?
Of course, if the entire Affordable Care Act is upheld by the Supreme Court and it becomes popular when fully implemented, “Obamacare” may take on a positive meaning, perhaps being a major factor if President Barack Obama is re-elected. But since its original connotation is negative and the term was coined by health care reform opponents, it is irresponsible for anyone in the media to use it.
As for my other pet peeve in this piece, when the two major political parties are mentioned in the media, the Democratic Party is always called by its name, while the Republican Party is frequently referred to as the “GOP.” While one friend claims that “GOP” stands for “Grumpy Old Prudes,” it’s actually an acronym for “Grand Old Party.”
Why should one party be constantly referred to by its real name, while the other gets called by a flattering nickname? This nickname itself conveys a value judgment, which is undeserved. What is so “grand” about a political party that pushes a corrupt corporate agenda, while showing no concept of the public interest, as occurs, for example, with regard to health care reform?
The “old” part of this nickname has no historical basis, for the Democratic Party has been around longer than the Republican Party. The Democratic Party has its roots in the Democratic-Republican Party, formed in 1789 during debate over the Constitution and led by Thomas Jefferson, seeking at the time to limit the power of the federal government. It took on the name of the Democratic Party in 1828, when Andrew Jackson was elected president. The Republican Party began in 1854 over opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which extended the possibility of slavery to two newly-formed territories in an area where slavery was previously banned. The first Republican state convention was held at Jackson, MI.
When the media freely use the terms “Obamacare” and “GOP,” instead of choosing more objective words, they again prove that the claim of “liberal media bias” from conservative crybabies is a lie.