By Brent Budowsky - 03/19/14 05:30 PM EDT
On March 31 the enrollment period for ObamaCare will end, hopefully with nearly 6 million customers signed up. On April 1 President Obama should announce the enrollment period will be extended for three months and begin the largest marketing campaign in the history of healthcare with a mobilization of the stars of sports, song and cinema. If this happens, enrollments will soar past the 7 million mark and dramatically increase the ratio of younger and healthier customers enrolled.
I will have much more to say about the Koch brothers soon, but for now I will say the Koch brothers, the Chamber of Commerce (which once represented Main Street but has become a subsidiary of the GOP) and others in the armies of the right are waging an all-out war that must be answered in kind.
Not since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has a war been waged with such ferocity and deceit against a law as the war waged against ObamaCare by hyperpartisan Republicans, big-spending conservative oligarchs and a conservative media mega-machine that thoroughly dominates its liberal “competitors,” because (are you listening, Hillary?) Republicans support friendly media in ways Democrats do not.
Against this onslaught to destroy Democrats by destroying ObamaCare, which is like earlier onslaughts against Social Security, Medicare and healthcare reform when Hillary Clinton was first lady, Democrats act like wimps.
Wimps do not win political wars.
If Obama extends the enrollment period by three months there will be howls of outrage from Republican partisans, conservative ideologues and right-wing oligarchs. Good — the fight-back spirit of Democrats and the anger explosion from the right will powerfully rouse the Democratic base, which needs rousing.
Democrats must understand (are you listening, Obama?) that extending the enrollment period must be accompanied by a massive marketing and promotion campaign worthy of a venture as huge and consumer-driven as ObamaCare.
Think Michael Jordan and Nike.
The nightmare for Democrats in November would be dramatic pre-election premium increase letters arriving in the mailboxes of voters. This can be prevented by increasing the number of younger and healthier customers in the program. The way to achieve this would be to extend the enrollment deadline and use the time to launch an explosion of entertainment and sports marketing that should have been organized long ago.
If this happens, the magic number of 7 million will be reached and a surge of favorable publicity will begin well before July.
Matt Damon can help Democrats win the war against ObamaCare. And so can Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Alicia Keys, Gloria Estefan, Ben Affleck, George Clooney and Brad Pitt. And Jay Z, Spike Lee, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Hank Aaron, Kevin Durant, Derek Jeter and Lebron James.
Obama, the Clintons and Democratic leaders have many friends in entertainment and sports. They should hit the phones, call in the chits and lead a giant marketing campaign and great political battle to defeat the GOP in its war to destroy Democrats by destroying ObamaCare.
Leading talent agencies such as Creative Artists Agency and William Morris include prominent Democrats. Obama should invite them to the White House to mobilize artists and athletes for a wave of appearances on television, social media and radio to extol the virtues of ObamaCare.
Will Democratic athletes, movie stars, television stars, rock stars and best-selling novelists fight for the future of their country as hard as the Koch brothers and the Chamber of Commerce? They will — if they are asked. Can they move the market, increase sign-ups and inform voters of the benefits of ObamaCare? They can — if they try.
Democrats today have their backs against the wall. They need to think big, take names and kick butt. If the president extends the enrollment deadline and the all-out war against ObamaCare is answered by the full force and power of the Democratic world, the battle of ideas will be won, the Democratic base will be roused and the elections of 2014 will be saved for Democrats.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.