Fight fear with fear

I was listening to a fairly recent Bill Moyers Journal via podcast and his guest was Wendell Potter– insurance industry executive turned major health reform proponent.  Potter was talking about all the fear mongering from opponents of reform.  They are doing this, of course, because fear works.  It occurred to me, that supporters of reform should fight fire with fire, or fear with fear, as the case may be– especially, since facts are on their side.  What Americans need to be afraid of is what health care may look like in 10 years if the bill fails to pass, not if it does.  I'm thinking of ads, which cite all sorts of official studies, and have scare facts and images like: "XX million Americans losing their insurance every year"  "your insurance premiums rising by XX%" "losing your job and losing your insurance."  Etc.,  you get the point.  In each case, give a nice little footnote cite to a McKinsey Study, CBO estimate or something.  These ads could be scary and still totally true.  Then, of course make the point that reform forestalls this scary future.  Tie this scary future to opponents of reform.  End with images of happy people who still have their insurance because reform passed. 

Okay, I know I'm no media strategist, but it seems to me that something along these lines might actually be reasonably effective.  What do you think?

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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