It’s been a busy couple of weeks.
In the midst of a string of rather sensible decisions that kept to the proper role of the judiciary on such issues as voting laws and class action lawsuits, the Supreme Court — or rather the only person who truly matters in the country, Justice and Supreme Overlord Anthony Kennedy — added politically convenient redefinition of a societal institution that’s as old as society itself to its gestating list of super powers.
In so doing, Justice Kennedy took it upon himself (albeit with the aid of the other four liberal Justices) to unilaterally expand government authority in this issue past its proper role of establishing the criteria by which society recognizes and maintains the mechanism for replenishing itself, into the realm of validating personal relationships.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama looked around, saw an international crisis in the Middle East, a blizzard of scandals battering at his administration, a stubborn economy that really wants to fly but can’t, a broiling immigration debate and a myriad of other pressing issues — and decides that the most pressing is climate change, necessitating a speech outlining his plan to kick the U.S. economy squarely in the ribs just as it begins struggling to its feet.
As a strictly tactical matter, you can’t really fault the president for this. After all, the timing was critical insomuch as even the New York Times was rolling back its climate change rhetoric in the face of data that mystifyingly refuse to follow the game plan. If you’re going to use a crisis to justify a masochistic program of economic leveling, you’d better do it before the public figures out there is no wolf.
Soon thereafter, the selfsame administration announced, as stealthily as it could manage, it was delaying a key provision of its signal achievement — the oxymoronically named Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare” to most) — until, as luck would have it, after the 2014 election. That’s the one where a whole lot of Democratic senators will be coming to terms with their votes approving Obamacare.
This was a tacit admission the program will be an economic nightmare. The delayed provision is the employer mandate, dictating to businesses with the equivalent of 50 or more full-time employees they must provide health insurance or face a fine — redefined, as the government seems wont to do in the tolerant spirit of the age, as “employer responsibility payments.” There might be a number of factors contributing to the persistently high unemployment rate, but being faced with a $2,000 per employee fine (sorry, responsibility payment) if you happen to expand your payroll to 50 or more workers and are unprepared to offer increasingly expensive health coverage as part of the deal, surely can’t help.
Obamacare as a concept was destined to implode, and its architects are beginning to realize it. It attempted to solve a problem (health care being too expensive) by compounding it (making it more expensive.) Health care is, in fact, too expensive in this country. It’s too expensive because we over-treat ourselves. We over-treat ourselves because there’s a disconnect between what health care costs and what most people pay for it — a disconnect exacerbated by Obamacare.
These three, disparate examples of America’s leftward detour, not exhaustive by any means, point to a particular style of governing that’s a hallmark of liberalism — a sort of political arrogance that disregards all but its own self-enlightened righteousness. Each element — judicial activism, executive fiat, blind ideological faith and tactical maneuvering to bypass democratic checks — holds in contempt the traditions, customs and institutions built into the system to keep a tight rein on impetuous and radical change.
Now, I’m no particular fan of unchecked democracy. One need look no further back than revolutionary France, Haiti in the 1990s or Egypt this morning to witness the ravages and inadequacies of unfettered mob rule. But the refined, restrained Anglo-western brand of democracy that was conceived in early western civilization, incubated in England and matured in America has achieved a pretty darn good balance.
A large part of the Republican message ought to be restoration of that balance. A good place to start might be to stop appointing judges who feel the compulsion to redefine things for the rest of the country; quit looking for haphazard, pseudo-scientific excuses to authorize federal agencies to rearrange the economy; and implement consumer-based reforms that will actually lower health care costs — complying with, rather than manipulating, the will of the people.