Race and the Fight Against Obamacare

From offensive signs to angry outbursts, the Huffington Post's Judy Lubin reflects on what she says has been the racialized opposition to the health care law that the Supreme Court upheld on Thursday.

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From offensive signs to angry outbursts, the Huffington Post's Judy Lubin reflects on what she says has been the racialized opposition to the health care law that the Supreme Court upheld on Thursday.

... For twenty years, the majority of Americans favored reforming the health care system. However, unlike during former President Clinton's reform efforts in the early 1990s, support for the Affordable Care Act was not only sharply divided along ideological grounds, but by race as well. Former President Carter sparked a national debate with his September 2009 comments noting that racism was partly motivating tea party activists who staged widely-covered angry outbursts at town hall meetings hosted by members of Congress and anti-government protests that featured racially offensive signs denouncing Obama and the health care bill.

While President Obama refuted Carter's claims, questions about the role of race continued. Indeed, in November 2009, 54 percent of adults indicated that race was at least a minor factor driving the opposition to President Obama's policies. But since then, more studies have revealed the ugly truth behind why some are vehemently against "Obamacare" and see its passage as a threatening symbol of the power of the nation's first black president.

Analysis of data from the American National Election Survey show prior to 2009, racial attitudes had a small, non-significant influence on white Americans' opinion on whether "health care should be voluntarily left up to individuals." As debate over Obama's health care proposals increased, a significant change in racialization on health care opinions was observed, according to a study published in February by Micheal Tesler, a political scientist professor at Brown University.

Read Judy Lubin's entire piece at the Huffington Post.

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