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Joseph Asante-Adampah
Professor Susan Lago
Eng-1100 College Writing
May 2014

Rumor travels faster than the speed of light. They are very powerful and interesting.
Rumor has no end because it gives people more. This is why they spread so quickly, especially
negative ones. Rumors get more interesting as they move from one person to the other. They
attract attention. They are emotional and they incite participation and influence attitudes. We
tend to be fascinated with rumors because they offer us some level of comfort in moments we
seek information. If people are reluctant to give information, then rumors get started. The more
negative a rumor is, the faster they spread. Rumors can lead to negative consequences intended
or unintended. Knapp states Wedge-driving rumors are so termed because of its effects in
dividing groups and destroying loyalties (361). Rumors have being the source of many wars
throughout history. One example is the Iraq war that was started on the premise of a rumor that
Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
According to Robert Knapp Wedge driving rumors creates animus between different
groups in the society (361). One of such is the rumor that the Affordable Healthcare Law
popularly called Obamacare will lead to the complete destruction of the healthcare system. This
is a rumor that was started by the Presidents political opponents and was spread through
conservative blogs. It was soon picked up by republican politicians and was use a propaganda
tool to drive them to victory in the 2010 house elections. But not for some amendments and
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changes that saw some parts of the law rewritten, this rumor would have single handedly
destroyed the entire law.
Wedge driving rumors are very common in the political environment. With the diverse
nature of the United States politicians are constantly using wedge rumors for political edge
against their opponents. The rumor that the presidents new healthcare care created death panels
was one that almost destroyed the law and was successful in giving republicans full control of
the U.S. congress. What made these rumors to work magically in republicans favor was the
groups involved; the elderly. The reason being they vote the most and are more concerned with
their health; moreover they have Medicare, which they really love. Telling the elderly that
democrats want to get ride of Medicare and replace it with Obamacare will surely not sit well
with them. Although Medicare might have some problems the elderly would rather have the
healthcare system they are familiar with. There is always the fear of the unknown and in this case
republicans were able to use this rumor to drive a wedge between democrats and the elderly for
political gain.
Wedge-driving rumors are particularly dangerous, they provoke resentment and mistrust
between allies or particular groups within a country and that can lead to very serious situation.
Another rumor about the healthcare law was that the law was government takeover of the
healthcare system. This rumor was also started by republicans to drive a wedge between people
who are weary of the power of the Federal government and the government. Certainly if one is
against government overreach then the solution will be to vote the government out of power.
Although this rumor was discredited it offered one of the qualities of rumors, which is; in the
face of the truth people will still believe a rumor. The oponents of the law allowed the rumors to
motivate people and drive them to the 2010 congressional elections.
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Writing a healthcare legislation for a population of over 300 million is indeed complex.
People may naturally have questions. Example people already with health insurance plans will
wonder what will happen to their plans. Employees in the healthcare industry will naturally want
to know the impact of the law in their industry. With all these stakeholders seeking information,
the government rather kept the legislative process shrouded in secrecy. This created a futile
ground for rumors. The assumption was if there were any good news in the bill, the
administration would not hesitate to tell people. Therefore the "death panel rumor" offered
answers to questions that people may have. The rumor was that the government would create a
board that will make end-of-life decisions on the gravely sick mostly the elderly. Simply put; the
Federal Government will decide whether to "pull the plug on grandma". Robert Knapp writes
rumors express and gratify the emotional needs of the community in much the same way as day
dreams and fantasy fulfill the needs of the individual (360). Therefore the Obamacare rumors
allowed republicans room to exploit the sensitivities of seniors to the subject of healthcare on a
poignant level. This rumor created a wedge between the elderly and the government and helped
draw the elderly and concerned citizens out in large numbers to vote against democrats.
People cannot live without rumors. Rumors are a part of our existence and we always
enjoy the company of people who have the most rumors to tell. According to Sunstein other
people have significant information, but are nonetheless motivated to accept the false rumors
(390). We just cannot seem to resist sharing rumors among each other. Rumors are interesting,
they are juicy and allows for interesting conversations among friends. However the power of
rumors can also not be underestimated. We see evidence of how destructive some rumors can be
and the problem they can ultimately create. There are very volatile situations all around the
world and one can only imagine the consequences of one false rumor. The main purpose of the
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healthcare law was to find a way insure the uninsured. After years of these false rumors, the law
provided insurance for over eight million Americans in the first year and significantly reduced
the percentage of the uninsured.

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Works Cited
Sunstein, Cass. Rumor Cascades and Group Polarization, Writing and Reading Across the
Curriculum, Twelfth Edition, Pearson, 2012, 388-395, Print.
Knapp, Robert. A Psychology of a Rumor, Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum, Twelfth
Edition, Pearson, 2012. 360-362, Print.