It’s “insane,” to use the words of several prominent Republicans, to believe that there are any “death panels” in the current healthcare proposal that will result in a government bureaucracy, directly or indirectly, sentencing the old or sick to death. Yet the message is spreading in the fearful Right.
Part of the problem is a combination of fear and carelessness in wording. The GOP has been pushing the euthanasia/voluntary suicide hot button for YEARS, and any time any proposal from the left comes with the words “voluntary end-of-life counseling” they’ll naturally go ape because they assume it’s the “end-of-life” that’s voluntary, not the counseling.
Messaging is crucial, and the GOP is expert at turning messages that are intended for the moderately astute into total freak-outs for “Regular Americans.” Living wills get torqued into voluntary euthanasia; family planning becomes mass abortions; coverage for marital counseling becomes decreed divorces; school health counseling becomes homosexual indoctrination. I swear that by the time this is over somebody’s going to take Everett Koop’s statement that gun violence is a public health issue and turn that into “Obamacare will confiscate your guns!”
It’s both intellectually and morally bankrupt, and there’s barely any defense against it other than to gently suggest that Congress will make sure that any plan to make healthcare more available and affordable will not involve mass murder, reeducation camps, or martial law. Because absurd as it sounds, a whole lot of people actively believe that it will.