Well! That was an invigorating and enjoyable 24-hour news cycle, wasn’t it? The hysterics; the swearing and f’bombing; the renewed exposure of “real media” as ranting and incompetent drama queens; Nancy Pelosi’s predictable incoherence; the wholesale giving over of Americans to their emotions! “We won!”, “We lost”; “America is over!” “America is getting a second chance!”; “It’s a tax!”, “It’s a penalty!”; “She’s my daughter and my sister!”
Oops. That’s Chinatown, Jake.
Yesterday many in the comboxes, on the internets and within the talking head culture went on a wholesale spree of self-indulgent, often rambling catharsis, generally informed by what feeling has held them most enthralled through months of bowel-clutching anticipation of a ruling on Obamacare. While some on the right may be feeling a bit wrist-slitty, today, I’m sensing a dawning of hung-over awareness; it’s hitting folks on both the left and the right like a bright sliver of light and it’s bringing either the wincing pain of doubt or the warmth of new life — and not all of your wincing is on the right, and not all of your spreading defrost is on the left.
I’ll get to linking to reactions in a second, but I just wanted to share with you an email I received from a female reader who took issue with my thoughts:
Anchoress, when did you become dead inside? How can you act like this is not a big deal? Our country is being destroyed from the inside [insert familiar rhetoric] and you used to understand that this is a coup.
I take mild exception to that “dead inside” thing. Wounded but carrying-on, I am, like the rest of us. I will admit though, that seven years online has sapped my patience for hysterics and I confessed weeks ago that I am bored beyond measure with the predictability of reactions to almost any story that comes down the pike. I’ve been asking people to “say something new”.
Yesterday, Chief Justice Roberts said something new. Whether he decided to say it early or late in the deliberations and writings is certainly an interesting question; if his mind and reasoning changed mid-stream, then it would be good to know what motivated him.
Some are suggesting that the Chicago-style bullying from our Chicago-style president may have influenced Roberts. I hope not; I hope Roberts simply understood that a 5-4 majority striking down Obamacare would further tear asunder our stricken, half-mad-with-sepsis nation, and he therefore found a third way — one that, rather than further-deepening our wounds may yet turn out to be a stinging douse of alcohol and a subtle job of stitchery, from which our gashes may yet heal.
Here is the new thing that John Roberts said:
“It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”
Breathe deep, folks. That’s fresh air, you’re sniffing. And it might strengthen us.
John Roberts just told America to grow up, pull up the big-boy and big-girl pants and stop looking for someone else to fix everything for them. Caterwauling “conservatives” should take a breath and think about that a little, because it is precisely what conservatives keep saying they want — less top-down, government-and-courts-driven action.
The “liberal” folks who endorse an infantilized nation under it’s “parental” control, cannot like it.
Roberts just did the nation a huge and brilliant favor by reining in how the increasingly feckless government — whom we have allowed to become feckless — may interpret and abuse the commerce clause. He has also literally handed back to the citizenry an unpopular piece of legislation that had been rammed into law against the wishes of the majority. Now, the unhappy citizenry can either fix this at the polls in just a few short months, or forever live with it.
I like the notion that this decision now rests with the people, where it should have always rested, and not with the Executive Branch or the Courts.
I like the idea of reacquainting Americans with the notion that policy and process should begin and end with them, through their informed vote and their insistence upon actual representative representation by those selected-and-elected few in DC.
I am strongly of the opinion that we Americans need to stop being so comfortable with allowing our laws to be delivered or dissolved at the bang of a gavel. I don’t think that’s good for any society. It did not serve us well with Roe v Wade, and it would not have served us well, yesterday.
We need to stop looking at the government as the dictators of our future and the dispenser of our freedoms. The people in Washington serve by our leave; we don’t get to live by theirs.
Certainly there are risks inherent in yesterday’s ruling — too many people are content to read a headline, or hear “it’s constitutional” and shrug a matter off as finished. Yes, their complaisance is a problem, and always will be, so just factor it in.
We cannot know how things will play out with the public between now and November. The press will call this “a victory” for Obama; they will tell us that “Obamacare is constitutional — period; end of story” and forget all the tax talk. They will spend the next 5 months reselling people on this legislation — and yes, some people will buy it. Maybe many will. That’s part of the process. Factor it in.
Both the Democrats and the GOP know they can screw things up, and badly, between now and November, as they re-engage. But at least we’re battling in fresher air.
For those of us who believe that healthcare issues like coverage for the unemployed or for those with pre-existing conditions did not necessitate a unilateral and sweeping one-party powergrab that would affect every facet of our lives, there is hope. It is up to Romney and the GOP to not screw it up, now.
Am I among the self-deluded?. Perhaps. I’ve never said I can’t be wrong. In fact, I’m often wrong.
But I still take the longview; I believe that all of our frantic todays have surprising, and often positive, effects on our tomorrows, in ways we cannot dream, while we’re in the whirlwind. God still has his hand in each day.
Which reminds me: how will all of this play with the HHS lawsuits moving through the courts, and its considerations within the law? Some are hopeful. Ultimately, it depends on whether the law still exists in January.
Then again, perhaps Obama will just listen to his wife on that issue?
Mark Shea has more thoughts on that.
If I were a Republican Congressman I’d schedule a new vote in the House on the individual mandate, but replace the “penalty language” with language specifically acknowledging that the “penalty” is actually a tax. If the Democrats vote “aye,” they’ve acknowledged breaking the Obama pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class. If the Democrats–specifically those who already voted for the mandate–vote “nay”, what becomes of the tax argument in future litigation?
There’s more — go read.
Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has a morsel of note-perfect snark
Here’s a roundup of reactions, most of which I admit I have not read fully, some barely at all:
Biggest Winners: The Founders
TaxProf Blog: Looking at the ObamaTax
Reason: Random Reflections
Tapscott: Roberts is not the goat
Krauthammer: Why Roberts did it
Ed Gillespie also unhappy
Bookworm, having a chance to ponder it sees it too:
Roberts wrote the decision at the end of a 90 year continuum holding that Government fixes problems and the Supreme Court fixes Government. This approach makes “We, the people” unnecessary. Rather than elections being the corrective, the Court is the corrective — except that the Court’s make-up is controlled by the Government. (Remember the Bork debacle?)
Roberts refused to play this game. He slapped back the Democrats’ hands when it came to the Commerce Clause, telling them that the federal government cannot legislate inactivity. And he held — quite correctly — that if there’s any possible way for the Court to salvage a law, it must do so. His salvaging was to say that, this particular law, written in this particular way, with these particular controls over the people, can be salvaged by calling it a tax. It’s an ugly decision, but probably a correct one. And then he tossed the whole thing back to the American people.
The system can work if we want it to.