Doctor Zero at Hot Air’s Greenroom just said something that has been knocking and nagging at me to get said, too. I concede with relief: it has found a much better outlet. This is what has been lost in the partisan and ideological tug-of-war between alternating derangement syndromes. This is the country, one nation, under God, indivisible, to which too many have abandoned allegiance in favor of allegiance to their “side,” their team, their half a brain. I will try to resist the temptation to quote it all.
I wonder how truly desirable these uncompromising contests between capitalism and socialism are. Aren’t elected officials, especially Congress and the President, supposed to represent all of their constituents? Wouldn’t that mean listening to the concerns of both liberals and conservatives, and trying to craft legislation that satisfies both sides to some degree? Are the members of a winning political coalition supposed to have absolute power to do whatever they want, even if they won with only about half the popular vote, while the other side sits in obedient silence until their next chance at the ballot box?
In the course of endorsing a Dick Cheney run for the Presidency in 2012, Jon Meacham of Newsweek writes:
One of the problems with governance since the election of Bill Clinton has been the resolute refusal of the opposition party (the GOP from 1993 to 2001, the Democrats from 2001 to 2009, and now the GOP again in the Obama years) to concede that the president, by virtue of his victory, has a mandate to take the country in a given direction.
I don’t think most Americans are under the impression they’re voting for a dictator every four years. Bill Clinton won the Presidency with a mere 43% of the popular vote. What sort of “mandate” did that give him to “take the country in a given direction?”
Of course, we cannot parcel out presidential powers based on the scale of the candidate’s electoral victory. The proper functioning of our government, and the harmony of our democracy, demand that we acknowledge the full legitimacy of the man or woman who sits in the Oval Office. The Left did their country no favors by bitterly dragging the 2000 elections out until 2008. The complementary aspect of this principle is that strong electoral victories cannot logically yield enhanced “mandates” to take the country in various radical directions. If close elections don’t produce miniature Presidents who just keep the seat warm until the next election, then landslide victories don’t produce super-Presidents with turbocharged authority. A President who carries 49 states, and wins 70% of the popular vote, is not entitled to stuff the opposing 30% of the electorate in the trunk and take America out for a joy ride. […]
The American understanding of democracy does not envision voters as slaves who enjoy the privilege of voting for a new master every few years. When the Declaration speaks of the right – and, later the duty – of the people to abolish tyrannical governments, it renders the notion of “mandates” to impose radical change on unwilling citizens absurd. […]
The dissent of a minority is not rendered irrelevant by victory in a popular vote… but the health-care debate in the Senate proceeds on the assumption that victory in a parliamentary struggle between a hundred elected officials will compel the consent of the millions of citizens – now a sizable majority of the population, based on the latest polls – who strenuously object to ObamaCare. […]
The vital role of consent in the structure of a just government is one of the most powerful ideas ever advanced by the human race. […] The need for your consent is not respected when your only hope of withholding it lies in historic midterm electoral victories and the rapid construction of huge Congressional majorities.
Go, read the whole thing. Now how to put this (I’m in an inarticulate phase): I do not quite see the health care bill in such dire terms as Doctor Zero does. I see it as unacceptable — burdensome, bureaucratic, inefficient, vastly overpriced, with many little pit traps hidden in its obfuscating length — but not as the calculated first step in a Stalinist power grab. Democratic socialism, European style, may not ever suit America, but neither is it dictatorship.
What bothers me more than the health care bill itself, or inseparably from it, is the way it is being rushed and rammed through. The majority of Democrats, the Congressional leadership above all, care only about party power and vanity. They have to grab their chance to piss on the country and put their territorial mark, their stink, on it. Many Republicans would do exactly the same (thank God or the BFFs — Best Founding Fathers evah — it takes more votes than most majorities get to amend the Constitution), but it’s hard to separate out their motives right now because all they can do is try to stop this juggernaut — whether for partisan or nonpartisan reasons.
But what kind of country is it when whichever rogue fragment is in power tries to impose its will, while the other merely does its best to sandbag that? The best that can happen is that we go nowhere, because each loco motive is trying to drag the train off the rails. Why has Afghanistan been subjected to an exhaustive review of all points of view, while health care has been all hugger-mugger? If you really cared about the state of the country, why would you try to force a prefabricated and dated agenda on it? Wouldn’t you start fresh, take your time, listen to your citizens, and invite the best ideas from all sides?
Wouldn’t that, among many other things, have been the best way to get reelected?