Calvin Freiburger

What Iceberg? Full Speed Ahead!

Posted on January 20 2010 4:22 pm
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.
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Some liberals still think ObamaCare is unsinkable.

Senator-elect Scott Brown’s thrilling victory in Massachusetts has put ObamaCare’s future in further question.  Moderate Democrats (and even some not-so-moderate ones) are scrambling to save their jobs sincerely reconsidering the merits of passing the current plan.  But The Daily Beast’s Peter Beinart says that, in the wake of a Republican victory in one of the Union’s safest Democrat offices, there’s only one way to go: “Push through health care reform, and fast”:

There are two arguments against doing so—one moral, one political—and they’re both wrong. The moral argument is that enacting health-care reform in the wake of Brown’s victory would be “undemocratic.” But what does that mean, exactly? I hate to shatter anyone’s illusions, but the United States is not actually a democracy; it’s a representative democracy. At the federal level, Americans don’t vote on whether bills should become law. They elect representatives who vote on whether bills should become law. That means that presidents and members of Congress have the right to defy the will of their constituents; they just have to face the consequences at the ballot box.

Beinart gets a gold star for recalling his Federalist Papers reasonably accurately (that is, if we set aside the question of nationalized healthcare’s constitutionality to begin with), but what we’ve seen in the fight for ObamaCare has gone well beyond politicians disagreeing with their constituents.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dismisses his policies’ foes as “evil-mongers.”  Speaker Nancy Pelosi ignores concerns over the limits of government power as “not a serious question.”  Former President Jimmy Carter and other Democratic officeholders have attributed ObamaCare opposition to racism.  Indeed, some haven’t even bothered to read the plans, and the Democrats are lying about the plan’s true costs.

The Founding Fathers believed in some measure of independence between a legislator and his constituents, but outright contempt for the people they’re supposed to serve is something else entirely.

If the moral argument against passing health care makes little sense, neither does the political argument. Already, a bevy of commentators are warning that pushing through health-care reform will come back to haunt Democrats at the polls this fall. That may be true, but so will not passing it. Enacting health-care reform will surely enrage the Republican Party’s already-enraged Tea Party base, along with some surly independents. But in both the House and Senate, Democrats have already voted for Obamacare, which means that they’ll be in the crosshairs of those voters no matter what. At least by passing something they will give their own party activists a reason to turn out. (It’s worth remembering that Democrats lost Congress in 1994 not only because their support for tax increases and gun control drove conservatives to the polls, but because their support for NAFTA prompted many liberals to stay home.)

Sure, the Democrats will catch some flack from the nutroots for not making all their socialist dreams come true, but when the state that repeatedly sent Ted Kennedy to the Senate and most recently chose Obama by a margin of 26 points votes in a Republican who campaigned against the type of bill Kennedy championed for much of his career (even a California leftist like Barbara Boxer is vulnerable these days), it can’t simply be attributed to a smattering of sign-waving ideologues.  Perhaps this is a sign the Tea Party movement is bigger and less partisan than Beinart would like to believe?

President Barack Obama’s push for nationalizing healthcare has taught the American people a great deal about how socialism and bureaucracy work, and while they once liked the concept, they’re not crazy about the details.  It’s not for nothing that even some of the most diehard lefties on Capitol Hill are second-guessing their game plan.


Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also blogs at the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

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