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Joseph Sabino Mistick

Joseph Sabino Mistick: Manchin is shooting at the right target

| Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, 6:33 a.m.

Sen. Joe Manchin’s new campaign commercial features him firing a weapon, and that is no surprise. Manchin aired a similar ad in the 2010 special election for his West Virginia seat, and he carried the day.

Politicians and guns have a long history in American politics, and ads featuring candidates firing weapons can put to rest any doubt about the candidate and the Second Amendment. Apparently, the sound of gunfire reassures many voters.

Some ads feature a candidate firing into space at an unseen target. One Alabama ad depicts a warning shot being fired over the head of an actor portraying a trespasser. And a Montana candidate shot a drone out of the sky in his congressional race pitch.

A Georgia gubernatorial candidate showed the world that he was a tough father by aiming a rifle at a young man who arrived to take his daughter on a date. Even if they were acting, the kid still had a rifle pointed at him, and that caused a little backlash. But the candidate blamed that on liberals.

In addition to demonstrating their support for the Second Amendment, some candidates shoot something that they want the voters to know they hate. Obamacare has often been the target, and the actual hard-copy version of the health care law has been blown to smithereens many times.

But something is changing, and Manchin is leading the way. Democrat Manchin is in a tough fight, running in a state that Donald Trump won by over 41 points two years ago. And Obamacare is a campaign issue again, but not like before.

Manchin’s opponent, Republican state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, is a party to a lawsuit that could end the protections that Obamacare provides to those with pre-existing health conditions. And that would put the lives of many West Virginians at risk.

West Virginia has done well under Obamacare. In spite of the state’s dramatic shift to the political right, it has not shied away from the best parts of what they prefer to call the Affordable Care Act. It has embraced the expansion of Medicaid and launched its own statewide campaign to promote enrollment.

Citing Kaiser Family Foundation estimates, The New York Times has reported that West Virginia “has benefited more than nearly every other state from the health care law, and it’s the state with the largest share of residents with pre-existing health conditions.”

So, there’s Joe Manchin, walking in the woods with a couple of pals, peeling off to talk about fighting for West Virginians. He describes the harm that will result from the end of protections for his constituents with pre-existing conditions, and says, “That’s just dead wrong, and that ain’t going to happen.”

Then he loads his shotgun, raises it to his shoulder and fires, blowing apart the cover sheet of the lawsuit his opponent has filed.

Psychologists struggle with what causes people to so often vote against their own interests, and that will not change quickly. But, at least when it comes to health care, voters are starting to aim at the right target.

Joseph Sabino Mistick is a Pittsburgh lawyer. Reach him at misticklaw@gmail.com.

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