Given that we the people have no control today over whether Obamacare is marketed to our emotions, it is reasonable to wonder what kinds of advertising campaigns for other government policies will be launched at us. Can a divided Congress stop any of them?
Advertising: too dangerous in the hands of government
As the swineline post points out, Obama is not the first president to use PR firms to hype government policies (or urge citizens to do things like obtain flood insurance or buckle their seatbelts). The Washington Times reports that the federal government has spent more than $16 billion on commercially contracted PR since 2002, much of it through non-competitive bidding.
Most of the spending under George W. Bush was by the Pentagon, although a good portion of that was on foreign-relations-oriented PR overseas. How much of that kind of thing the Pentagon “should” be doing is part of a much larger, long-running argument about the division of labor between civilian diplomacy (State) and military diplomacy (Defense). But HHS came in a healthy second throughout the period 2002-2011.
Advertising is a dangerous thing in the hands of the armed state. I am no more in favor of Republican administrations spending a lot of money on it than of Democrats doing so. With Obamacare, we have reached the fork in the road. A government with the powers conferred by Obamacare cannot, on principle, be trusted to “advertise” its policies to us. The inevitable descent into untrustworthy propaganda has already begun. Until Obamacare is repealed, it will continue to get worse.
Originally published at The Optimistic Conservative.