It may well be that what’s been going on lately with Obamacare is that imagology has met reality.
Before the rollout, everything was theoretical. Even now, almost everything is a prediction and projection about what we think will happen.
But there have been a couple of realities. One is the website, even worse than its most vehement naysayers had predicted, and frustrating users in a very personal way. That has a direct effect on the credibility of those who promoted, passed, and designed Obamacare.
Another reality is the people who already perceive themselves as having been hurt by the law. Of course, a certain portion of them—and we have no idea how big or small this group will ultimately be—may be mistaken and may find in time that they actually qualify for better (or worse) insurance policies and more (or fewer) subsidies than they think they do at the moment. But they are very, very real, and they are speaking up and telling their stories.
…[C]ommunists used to believe that in the course of capitalist development the proletariat would gradually grow poorer and poorer, but when it finally became clear that all over Europe workers were driving to work in their own cars, [the communists] felt like shouting that reality was deceiving them. Reality was stronger than ideology. And it is in this sense that imagology surpassed it: imagology is stranger than reality, which has anyway long ceased to be what it was for my grandmother, who lived in a Moravian village and still knew everything through her own experience: how bread is baked, how a house is built, how a pig is slaughtered and the meat smoked, what quilts are made of, what the priest and the schoolteacher think about the world; she met the whole village every day and knew how many murders were committed in the country over the last ten years; she had, so to speak, personal control over reality, and nobody could fool her by maintaining that Moravian agriculture was thriving when people at home had nothing to eat. My Paris neighbor spends his time an an office, where he sits for eight hours facing an office colleague, then he sits in his car and drives home, turns on the TV, and when the announcer informs him that in the latest public opinion poll the majority of Frenchmen voted their country the safest in Europe (I recently read such a report), he is overjoyed and opens a bottle of champagne without ever learning that three thefts and two murders were committed on his street that very day.
…[S]ince for contemporary man reality is a continent visited less and less often and, besides, justifiably disliked, the findings of polls have become a kind of higher reality, or to put it differently: they have become the truth. Public opinion polls are a parliament in permanent session, whose function it is to create truth, the most democratic truth that has ever existed. Because it will never be at variance with the parliament of truth, the power of imagologues will always live in truth, and although I know that everything human is mortal, I cannot imagine anything that would break its power.
[ADDENDUM: Andy at Ace's discusses some might fine imagology from the Atlantic.]