When a Tweet of Mine About the Affordable Care Act Goes Viral


I’ve never had a Tweet go viral like this before. My small contribution to the tweets of those angry about the GOP effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act has been retweeted a little over 1,300 times as of now. That’s not a lot for famous people, but it’s more than I’ve ever gotten. It freaks me out a little. It also makes me wonder. Why this one out of the 70,000 or so I’ve done over the years?

I don’t know, but I can guess.

I like to kid around on Twitter. Hey, who doesn’t? But while I think I can get a laugh every once in a while, I’m not Patton Oswalt. Some of my jokes have travelled far on Twitter, thanks to a well-known person thinking they’re funny. (Don’t think I don’t appreciate that, @anamariecox and @mogaffney.) But they’re mordant little musings at best, not timeless bon mots.

I’m also a bit of a politics nut. I think about politics a lot. I pay attention to political news. I try to place current political questions in historical context, if only to explain them to myself, and I fret about the impact of political decisions on me and mine. But most people aren’t concerned about politics that way. It’s a dull, frustrating subject, filled with acronyms, jargon, and cant. I get upset when Paul Ryan and his merry band of saboteurs want to force dynamic scoring on the Congressional Budget Office. (If you’re curious about why that’s bad, read here.) But I can understand how the jargon itself can dampen curiosity about what it means or why it matters. Politicians understand it too, which is why they try to fill any controversial proposal with the right combination of jargon and focus-group-tested buzzwords needed to slide it past people with busy lives and little time.

But repealing the Affordable Care Act has effects that are large, deeply personal, and hard to spin. Most adults, especially most adults who’ve been sick themselves or have had to care for sick loved ones, know the difference between good insurance and bad. They know what it means when coverage is restricted, when medications are no longer included, or when pre-existing conditions start counting again. Also, many have made life decisions based on the ACA. They’ve left their jobs to start businesses or to freelance. Losing insurance means having to shut that down to job hunt, or to keep going and hope that that cough doesn’t turn out to be indicative of something serious. This isn’t like some abstruse beltway argument that, though important, is easy to get lost in. This is going to hit people hard in ways that are profound and obvious. Some who lose their insurance will go broke, and yes, some will die.

I take it personally, mainly because Paul Ryan’s about to stick my insurance, which has seen me through depression and a nasty case of shingles, in the shredder. And though my tweet is stated dryly–Twitter is where we all go to be flip–there’s anger behind it, and somehow it was just the right combination of glibness and righteous outrage to strike a nerve.

I’m glad to know the nerve is there to be struck. Maybe it means there’s enough feeling out there to stop this nonsense before it goes any further, or to make sure that, if Republicans go through with their dismal plan, they’ll pay with their jobs.

1,581 retweets now.

Good thing I turned my iPhone’s notification sounds off.

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