I find myself rather….disappointed….with the whining and hand-wringing on the right side of the aisle that has taken place in the last 36 hours or so. Obamacare was held up, granted on the flimsiest of arguments, and because the Chief Justice did not do as many conservatives thought he should do, he is now a traitor in their eyes, no matter what may be said in his own defense.
This is incredibly sad, for it brings to mind the puerile and short-sighted behavior of the progressives after Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut voiced his support of the War in Iraq. The leftists stomped their feet like spoiled toddlers and made sure a more suitable candidate won the next Connecticut primary. This is the way the system is supposed to works, so I’m not criticizing that. I just find it ridiculous that the Democrats chose to ostracize one of their own, to the point of trying to end his career, because of his disagreement with them on one single issue.*
Usually, when I compare Conservatives and Progressives, I see those who recognize the forest from far away vs those who cannot see the forest because they are too focused on the trees right in front of them. Granted, the particular format of communication made possible by the Internet does result in a rather myopic point of view, as it’s easy to get so focused on what’s happening minute-by-minute rather than to place what is happening within its proper framework. To accomplish such a placement–to be able to see the forest despite the multitude of trees–requires a sense of perspective that only comes with time, patience, and humility.
Time, to learn about the past and experience enough of the present. This is why youths trend towards Progressivism, while older adults trend towards Conservatism.
Patience, to slow down and think about what is going on rather than letting emotions dictate one’s actions.
Humility, to keep the proper perspective about oneself and one’s short-comings, as there will always be another who knows more or a fact not yet considered.
What I have been seeing in the past 36 hours, however, has been both sides behaving shortsightedly. The Progressives are crowing about their victory and trying to prevent the mechanisms of government from turning back to correct a grievous wrong. They shout about winning, though the football is still in play, in the hands of the opposing team, and the fourth quarter has yet to begin.
Many conservatives, on the other hand, are walking off the field, so focused on the unpleasant obstacles in front of them that they are forgetting (or ignoring) that there is still plenty of time left to win and plenty of plays that can be run. In other words, they are letting their emotions dictate their actions, rather than their brains.
I’ve skimmed Chief Justice Roberts’s decision, and I plan to read it more thoroughly. What has stood out for me the most is the following:
Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.
The United States is one of the most, if not the most, resilient countries the world has ever seen. The Founders knew that we as citizens would make mistakes, because we are, after all, imperfect human beings. And we have made mistakes, many times over. But what we have also done is, for better or for worse, learn from those mistakes. And, as Roberts pointed out, it is not always the responsibility of the courts to correct those mistakes; it is ultimately the responsibility of the American people. Therefore, the mechanism for correcting any mistakes was written into our Constitution: our vote and our voice.
Roberts also pointed out in his ruling opinion that, despite the protestations of the President and the Democrats in Congress while trying to get Obamacare passed, the so-called Individual Mandate is nothing more than a massive tax increase, which Obama’s own lawyers ended up agreeing with (see the second paragraph of the quote):
Under the mandate, if an individual does not maintain health insurance, the only consequence is that he must make an additional payment to the IRS when he pays his taxes….That, according to the government, means the mandate can be regarded as establishing a condition–not owning health insurance–that triggers a tax–the required payment to the IRS.
Neither the Act nor any other law attaches negative legal consequences to not buying health insurance, beyond requiring a payment to the IRS. The Government agrees with that reading, confirming that if someone chooses to pay rather than obtain health insurance, they have fully complied with the law.
In other words, by the Federal government’s own admission during the Supremem Court hearing, the Individual Mandate is a tax. Because Congress has the authority to tax the American people, the Mandate must be upheld. In other words, when Obama went on record and insisted that the Individual Mandate was not a tax, he was lying. When he and his surrogates insist today and for the next four months that it is not a tax, they will be lying.
If Romney is smart, and I think he is, his message will be crystal-clear and relentless: Obama and the Democrats in Congress raised your taxes, and they did it by lying to you. If you do not remove Obama and the Democrats, your taxes will skyrocket.
The economic woes are not going away any time soon. Gas prices are still high, trips to the grocery store are high, and jobs in many sectors are not easy to come by. The middle class is the bread and butter of this country, and the absolute last thing they need right now is a huge increase in taxes, which is exactly what they will get if the rest of Obamacare takes effect.
Conservatives have a golden opportunity to remove many of the people who created Obamacare, along with the man who told so many lies to help get it through. The choice, then, is simple: whine about life not going your way, or work with what you have.
Get lost in the trees, or step back and see the forest.
*Of course, what the leftists didn’t factor in was Lieberman’s popularity in his state among Independents and Republicans, and so Lieberman was able to keep his seat simply by switching his party-affiliation to Independent, thus depriving the Democrats (albeit in name only, as he still votes with them most of the time) of a seat in the Senate during a time when the split was 51 Dem – 49 Rep.