What does it all mean?
by: R.J. Moeller
The election of Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy’s US Senate seat last Tuesday night was monumental and historic. It effectively nailed the political coffin shut on Obamacare, and hopefully will force both parties to open a real, meaningful dialogue about tort reform, allowing insurance to be bought and sold across state lines, and making sure no tax dollars are ever allocated for abortions.
But while senator-elect Brown’s ascendancy to power in the most liberal state in the union was near-miraculous, it did not happen by mistake. His being the 41st vote against Obamacare is not the real story here. His becoming the 41st vote, and the political, cultural, and ideological realities that led to it, is the story. Scott Brown is the effect, not the cause, of Obamacare’s demise.
How did we get here? How did the “agent of change” fail so miserably at convincing John and Jane Taxpayer that his cradle-to-grave health care entitlements were worth their support?
Health care reform, the kind championed by President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, has not passed into law for three main reasons. The first is simple and fairly obvious to even the casual observer: congress is a quagmire of good intentions, bad ideas, and inefficiency. The legislative branch of the federal government does not have to be so ineffective, but it is, and has been for some time. Even when a political party controls both houses of congress with dominating majorities, and has an ideologically-driven president in the White House, little (of beneficial importance) ever gets accomplished. The inability of Republicans to pass Social Security reform in 2005 and now Democrats to pass health care reform in 2009 should tell you all you need to know about the frustratingly arduous nature of the legislative process.
It must be stated, however, that the difficultly most modern congresses experience in trying to enact laws is not a complete accident. Our system of government was set up to make radical, sweeping change, the likes of which we were promised in 2008 on the presidential campaign trail, easier said than done. No one, not even a Saul Alinsky disciple and community organizer from the most corrupt political machine on the planet, was meant to be able to change the law with 140 characters (or less) on Twitter.
But I propose that what we’ve witnessed in the past year, in terms of finger-pointing, wasted time and amateur-hour politics from the White House and leadership on Capitol Hill, is not exactly what James Madison and John Jay had in mind when they were penning the Federalist Papers. There is all the difference in the world between the purposely complex constitutional structure our Founders constructed and the hapless, bumbling, self-aggrandizing process recent congresses have engaged in as they try to stuff every piece of legislative pork in to their bureaucratically bloated traps.
The second reason Obamacare is not already the law of the land is also fairly simple and obvious: corruption. On a scale I’ve never seen in my admittedly short life, the leading Democrats in Washington have engaged in the most blatant, reckless, and unapologetic political chicanery imaginable. Now don’t get me wrong, corruption and back-room wheeling-and-dealing is a bi-partisan sport in congress. Corruption follows power and as we stray further and further from the original intent of the constitution (effective, de-centralized, limited government), both sides of the political aisle is home to exploitative “representatives” of the people.
But, and to stay with the sports analogy, Democrats for the past year have single-handedly taken political bribery and conspiracy from previous “weekend warrior” levels to their current elite, Olympic ones. It’s been easier to get straight answers from Mark McGuire about steroids than it has been from Harry Reid about health care or Nancy Pelosi about cap-and-trade.
The third and final reason health care reform did not pass in 2009, and likely is dead in 2010, is the American public’s lack of desire to pursue the brand of “progress” the president fervently believes in and has pushed for his entire adult life. It took a year of town hall meetings, Tea Party rallies, talk radio pleading, off-year election campaigning, and an over-bearing and condescending mainstream media to wake enough Americans up to the fact that the people running things in their federal government have a vision for this country’s economic and cultural future that doesn’t match up to their own.
G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “Progress by its very name indicates a direction; and the moment we are in the least doubtful about the direction, we become in the same degree doubtful about the progress.” President Obama, although on-record as being an un-waveringly committed proponent of socialized medicine and an eventual federal takeover of the health care system, repeatedly insisted that he only wanted to tweak the system. Over time, it became clear even to Barney Frank’s constituents that the House and Senate bills wouldn’t need 2,000 pages if it were only a “tweak” Democrats had in mind.
President Obama made his case for health care reform all about change, progress, and compassion for those who are un-insured. The fact that more than 80% of the people he was talking to already have and like their insurance and health care never mattered to David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, and Barack Obama. It cannot be stressed enough: these men, and progressive liberals everywhere, believe health care is a right and must be provided to citizens by their government.
This is their idea of progress, their end-goal in the “change” game. The same cannot be said for the overwhelming majority of Americans. Although many initially responded to the deceptively alluring calls for “progress”, when it became abundantly clear this fall and winter that the costs (both literal and figurative) were higher than the president said they would be, voters and taxpayers became wary of the direction they were being led. The president moved the field goal posts so many times, and his counterparts in the House and Senate made so many shady deals to buy votes, that in the end even voters in a state (Massachusetts) that has a version of what Obama promises will work nationally rejected his plan.
Americans want to take care of themselves, their families, and their neighbors. We are a generous and kind nation on so many important levels. Americans also all want costs in health care to go down. They want doctors to be able to operate without such a pervasive fear of litigation for the smallest and most innocent of infractions or mistakes. We want the best and the brightest to pursue medicine and we want to remain the nation that both rich and poor from other nations take risks and incur great personal costs to get to.
But there were, and are, ways of systematically healing our sick (but not terminal) health care system without fundamentally changing it forever. More importantly, there are certain things more important than so-called “free stuff” from Big Brother. There are ideals and values that permeate the national consciousness that do not line up with the Euro-socialist ideology of liberal Democrats.
You can dress those points of conflict up; you can find someone with impeccable oratory skills to attempt to reconcile them to the masses; you can use things like race or gender as shields to deflect those who point them out; but ultimately the truth of these differences and discrepancies will shine through and the people will see what the deeper battle is about. They will see what choices they truly do face.
C.S. Lewis said that we would all act differently towards our fellow man if we saw them not for the temporal, physical creatures they are now, but for the spiritual, eternal creatures they will be some day. He wrote that every individual is getting closer to heaven or closer to hell with every thought, every act, every decision and every moment of every day. There are unique times in our life where the veil of life’s complexities and distractions is lifted up and we see things for what they truly are. These are times when profound insights can be obtained and long-lasting, far-reaching decisions can be made.
A nation is nothing more than a collection of individuals, and from time to time, the veil of petty politics and cable news talking-points and emotions-based thinking is lifted long enough for us to get a good look at both ourselves and at those who supposedly represent us. This is that time. Scott Brown isn’t the answer to political malfeasance and dereliction of duty on Capitol Hill. Defeating Obamacare won’t fix health care. Bad loans won’t stop being offered and accepted with another “Czar” appointment. It starts with us, with the individuals who comprise this blessedly free and prosperous nation that care about its soul, its history, and its principles.
What is the direction we want to head as a country? What should “progress” really look like for a Constitution-adhering people? What are our real goals for the economy, for education, and for society? Do we have the intellectual honesty and courage to candidly share those goals with our fellow citizens (especially if we desire to lead them in elected office), or will we continue to mask them with language we think people can more easily stomach?
Are we becoming a freer, more responsible nation (Heaven); or will we go the way of dying Europe, silently into that quiet night, as we trade liberty for the false security and temporary comfort of collectivism (Hell)?