Sarah Palin and Free Stuff Vs. Freedom

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Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple (who is my husband) noticed an interesting trend this week: former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has a snappy new one-liner. Palin has used the same riff repeatedly, and she did it again on Fox News Friday night. Here’s what she said:

“I just pray that Americans will open their eyes between now and November when they know that they’ll have to make that choice between free stuff or freedom. You can’t have both.”

Wemple notes that Palin has been throwing the line around a lot lately, and traces its origin back to a February Washington Times op-ed written by Ted Nugent. But the “free stuff” meme has also been pushed by GOP presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney, who has used it repeatedly in response to questions about health care. In Florida earlier this year, in response to a heckler who asked about free contraception under Obamacare, he said, “If you’re looking for free stuff you don’t have to pay for? Vote for the other guy, that’s what he’s all about, okay? That’s not, that’s not what I’m about.” And then shortly after he got booed at the NAACP convention this summer, he told a group of donors in Montana what he told all those black folks in the room:

I hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this, if they want more stuff from government tell them to go vote for the other guy — more free stuff.

Romney’s association of the “free stuff” meme with Obamacare suggests Republicans are desperately looking for a new way to attack the health care law, which has been the animating force of much conservative rhetoric and tea party activism over the past three years. Despite all the GOP predictions that Obamacare would usher in a new era of socialism and government tyranny, the reform law is finally making people’s lives better. Voters are starting to realize that, and Republicans appear to be freaking out about it, if Palin’s multiple attacks are any indication.

It’s hard to generate angry crowds over a health care plan that, in the past year, has delivered health insurance to millions of additional people. Women voters, a key constituency, are finally starting to get free contraception (a part of the bill that’s on the way to saving my own family at least $600 a year!). Seniors and disabled people have saved upwards of $4 billion in reduced prescription drug costs, and nearly 13 million families this year got more than $1 billion in rebates from insurance companies that were spending too much of their premiums on private jets and not enough on health care.

At a time when median income has totally hit the skids, “free stuff” is probably coming as welcome relief to people who may now be more inclined to re-elect President Obama as a result. Romney has offered no viable alternative health care solutions other than to propose repealing Obamacare. If Palin’s latest offensive is any indication, Republicans are resorting to an attack on the law’s beneficiaries themselves, as if Americans who take the rebate or free birth control pills are morally weak, freedom-hating slackers looking for a handout. It’s hard to see how this is going to win over many voters. You can watch Palin explain all this here: 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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