The dueling demonstrations outside the Supreme Court today as it takes up the suits against Obamacare is yet another reminder that our fragile democracy hangs by ever-thinner threads. Have we forgotten that a huge congressional majority accompanied Obama into office in 2009 or that he bested Grumpy John McC by a comfortable 7 percentage points? If this wasn’t the voice of the people expressed fair and square, the concept has no meaning.
Furthermore, Obama bent over so far backward during the legislative process to accommodate GOP objections to his proposed health insurance reform that it’s a wonder he hasn’t taken been made an honorary chiropractor. If the inflamed Tea Party Republicans had been concerned about he shape of the reform, they could have exercised their minority views during that year-long debate. Instead, they dug in their heels, turned the process into a shouting match and did their best to sabotage the entire (democratic) process.
Now, left with no recourse in the legislative arena, the die-hards are demanding that unelected judges, whom they have long denounced for ‘legislating from the bench’, proceed to do exactly that. Judicial ‘activism’ was something conservatives have pretended to find appalling when judges ruled in ways they didn’t like on the Miranda rule, desegregation, same-sex marriage, environmental protection and other judicial initiatives to protect the defenseless. Now, these shameless bullies suddenly insist that the courts intervene to wreck the minimal changes Obama salvaged after ceding several football fields’ worth of territory to them in his futile attempts at ‘compromise’.
The often discussed similarities between Obamacare and Romneycare—which once represented the Republican answer to our runaway health costs—are laughably obvious (even Rick Santorum can see them). So are the actual measures contained in the massive legislation not really the point? After all, the GOP had ample opportunity to shape the law’s contents to benefit their rich patrons and enthusiastically did so, leaving behind a highly flawed final product that still fails to grapple with the insane costs of American medicine. So if it is not really about policy or coverage or law or insurance pools or Medicaid or the hundreds of other details, what’s the big beef?
In my opinion it’s simple: they’re not in charge, so they’re agin’ it. A similar bill shepherded through Congress by George W Bush would have drawn enough Republican support to pass despite its violations of their allegedly sancrosanct small-government principles. In fact, this is exactly what occurred with Bush’s Medicaid Part D drug benefit that cost the Treasury the better part of a trillion dollars.
The ferocious campaign against the Obama initiative is less about health insurance law than about Obama himself and his audacity in becoming president. How dare a Democrat and a Negro to boot take over on Pennsylvania Avenue? This is NOT DONE. Today’s Republican ‘opposition’ is not really loyal to the democratic system it purports to uphold. It’s a subversive band determined to wreck what escapes its control and to institutionalize its own permanent dominance. Obama’s whining attempts to make his peace with them is a reflection of his party’s refusal to perceive the ongoing attempts by this fifth column in business suits to change the ground rules and rule forever. The tactics they’ve employed so far are child’s play.
[Update]: I am happy to see that the main political columnist at salon.com agrees with me.