Barack Obama's Recipe for Heated Holiday Gatherings

The president is urging families to talk about health insurance when they get together this year. What could go wrong?
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Health-care decisions are personal. The Affordable Care Act is the most polarizing law in the United States. And using its broken website is still very frustrating. Despite all that, Barack Obama would like for you to raise the subject of health care with your family when you gather together for the holidays this year:

Once that conversation is over perhaps you could bring up reproductive rights, immigration reform, and judicial filibusters. They're all important subjects of national concern. Why not set aside some time on Thanksgiving Day to discuss them too? Maybe just pick up the remote, turn off the football game, and ask everyone if you could have their attention while you explain how progressive public policy can improve their lives if only they do their part. They'll appreciate it!

What's that you say? Talking to your family seems too complicated to pull off without more detailed instructions? Don't worry. Some nice progressive communications professionals in Washington, D.C., have written them up in four steps. 

(I am not making this up.)

Step 1, in which you tip off adult family members that you'll be talking about their health coverage and instruct them to bring along a dossier of personal information:

Step 2, which advises to "integrate the talk into family time" and to "be persistent":

Step 3, in which the progressive communications professionals provide talking points with which to spin your loved ones:

Even more Step 3, in which you likely mislead your loved ones about the ease of signing up:

And Step 4, in which Organizing for Action uses this whole "talk to your family about health insurance" campaign to slyly build their email list:

This has the feeling of an effort brought to you by the same paternalists who were behind the Julia ad. And it ignores what The Onion reported on so well last November:

WASHINGTON—Sequestered in their homes today to review talking points on a range of topics from gay marriage to Gaza to the wisdom of purchasing a hybrid car, the nation’s uncles have reportedly entered their final stages of preparation for Thursday’s highly anticipated sit-down Thanksgiving dinner debates. “Now, now—now Bob—Bob!—you can’t just go saying… Hold on—you can’t just go saying that without considering the consequences,” said the loudmouth contrarians, talking into their mirrors as they vigorously rehearsed various interruptions and smug denunciations on subjects such as political bias in the media and whether or not underage nephews should be allowed to have a few sips of wine on a holiday. “If you thought about—thank you, Mary, it was delicious—if you thought about the consequences for one second, you’d realize how completely wrong that plan is. That’s exactly what these congressmen think, and that’s why we’re headed off a fiscal cliff. You see?” Sources confirmed the nation’s uncles are drafting their closing remarks around the theme of how the crust on the pumpkin pie could be “a little flakier.” 

Proceed at your own risk.

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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