But I'll pause to point out a cultural and political implication of this ruling and the drama leading up to it. Some supporters of the law declared that they were going to take their ball and go home if the Supreme Court didn't agree with their interpretation of the statute. These people wasted their time: With a 6-3 ruling, the call was not so close that the posturing pushed it over. But these people did have one effect. They eroded something in civic life that we can't afford to lose. By pretending that the Supreme Court and the rule of law were at risk in this ruling, they strained the already frayed fabric of civil society.
Do you remember the hissy fit McArdle threw when Obamacare passed into law? I sure do.
Regardless of what you think about health care, tomorrow we wake up in a different political world.
Parties have passed legislation before that wasn't broadly publicly supported. But the only substantial instances I can think of in America are budget bills and TARP--bills that the congressmen were basically forced to by emergencies in the markets.One cannot help but admire Nancy Pelosi's skill as a legislator. But it's also pretty worrying. Are we now in a world where there is absolutely no recourse to the tyranny of the majority? Republicans and other opponents of the bill did their job on this; they persuaded the country that they didn't want this bill. And that mattered basically not at all. If you don't find that terrifying, let me suggest that you are a Democrat who has not yet contemplated what Republicans might do under similar circumstances. Farewell, Social Security! Au revoir, Medicare! The reason entitlements are hard to repeal is that the Republicans care about getting re-elected. If they didn't--if they were willing to undertake this sort of suicide mission--then the legislative lock-in you're counting on wouldn't exist.Oh, wait--suddenly it doesn't seem quite fair that Republicans could just ignore the will of their constituents that way, does it? Yet I guarantee you that there are a lot of GOP members out there tonight who think that they should get at least one free "Screw You" vote to balance out what the Democrats just did.
If the GOP takes the legislative innovations of the Democrats and decides to use them, please don't complain that it's not fair. Someone could get seriously hurt, laughing that hard.
Such incivility will strain the already frayed fabric of civil society!
But I hope they don't. What I hope is that the Democrats take a beating at the ballot boxand rethink their contempt for those mouth-breathing illiterates in the electorate. I hope Obama gets his wish to be a one-term president who passed health care. Not because I think I will like his opponent--I very much doubt that I will support much of anything Obama's opponent says. But because politicians shouldn't feel that the best route to electoral success is to lie to the voters, and then ignore them.
We're not a parliamentary democracy, and we don't have the mechanisms, like votes of no confidence, that parliamentary democracies use to provide a check on their politicians. The check that we have is that politicians care what the voters think. If that slips away, America's already quite toxic politics will become poisonous.
Democrats are ignoring what the Republicans want! Why don't Democratic politicians understand that they won't get Republican votes if they don't do what the Republicans want? If Democrats don't give in to the Republicans, politics will become even more toxic.
Liberals ruined everything by democratically electing Obama and utterly ignoring the wishes of conservatives to elect the guy with all the car, kids, horses and gutted companies. Liberals endangered the nation by forcing conservatives to accept Obamacare. God alone knows what might follow when one part of the nation is so overbearing as to fulfill a campaign promise (in a fashion). The delicate fabric of the space-time continuum might be rent by the abrasive, abusive liberals' jackboots forcing corporate reform. (Of a fashion.)
Obviously, yes, I was upset yesterday. I'm glad that this could bring so much joy to peoples' hearts, and of course to know that for many people, the happiest part of passing health care reform seems to have been knowing that it made people like me unhappy. The people wondering why I was so upset should contemplate that first, I think you people just screwed up both our health care system, and our fiscal system (even further), and that if I'm right, that's not really funny.
That's news to us. The last time McArdle talked about gay marriage in length she was sure it would ruin marriage somehow, just as sure as she is that Obamacare will ruin the economy and kill millions somehow.
Obviously, there are places and times when a nation's political institutions are so corrupt and compromised that a patriotic citizen is duty bound to try to destroy them rather than let them continue to operate as they are. But that place is not the America of 2015, and the time is not "when I am afraid that the court will disagree with me about one clause of a program I think is really important." Your country needs a functioning Supreme Court, and the civic support that legitimizes it, more than it needs any government program, including Obamacare.
This is something that liberals will become well aware of tomorrow or Monday, when the court is expected to rule in favor of a broad constitutional right to marriage, including for same-sex couples. I'm a libertarian, so as you'd expect, I find that agreeable.
On the other hand, as a matter of constitutional theory, I expect the ruling to be a weak outgrowth of the absurd "emanations and penumbras" seeping out of all the sexual liberty cases of the 1960s, for which I can find little actual basis in either the text or intent of the constitution.
Legal scholar McMegan studied the constitution and decided that privacy was nothing but a hippy-dippy tantrum. Are we supposed to believe that McArdle poured over the Constitution, consulted cases law, and formed an educated opinion?
In other words, I think it will probably be a bad ruling for a good cause, which is why conservatives who sincerely believe this to be a bad cause will have a right to be mad.
Liberals threaten the legitimacy of the Supreme Court when they are mad about cases. Conservatives have the right to be mad about cases. It's funny how no matter what, conservatives are the legitimate ones and liberals are illegitimate.
What they should not do is to go into the sort of shameful tantrum we've seen from liberals on the subject of King, where they declare that a ruling against them would be a naked abuse of partisan political power by which the court has thoroughly invalidated any claim it ever had to political legitimacy. The losing side will always be displeased, but let's keep some perspective: Bush v. Gore should not cost the court its standing. Neither should Citizens United. A case like King v. Burwell should certainly not.
What liberals? I might as well talk about conservatives who whore for the Koches. I can actually provide sources for that accusation.
We are politically fragile right now, and yet neither side is going away. As we discovered in 1861, at the national scale, there's no such thing as a tidy no-fault divorce.
Dad wanted to keep slaves but Mom didn't so Dad left Mom and threatened to kill her if he didn't get his own way. When Mom warned him that a divided family will not stand he carried out his threat and tried to kill her. Now Dad wants to quit paying child support because Mom "didn't build that" and is threatening to take away the kids' health insurance to punish Mom. But the Attorney General garnished Dad's wages for child support and now he is angry. McArdle says he has every right to be angry, for his side of the issue was utterly ignored.
That's why the more divided we get, the more vitally important it is to have common institutions that both sides agree to abide with, however much it may chafe at certain moments. Yet instead of recognizing that, we are increasingly trying to destroy those institutions whenever it seems to offer temporary political advantage. However much you dislike the behavior of Congress, or the Supreme Court, or the president, you would like it even less if they really did lose political legitimacy. Because it wouldn't just be you who threw off the shackles of custom and civic restraint and disregarded rulings you disliked. Those villains on the other side would do the same.
Unable to crow over a victory, McArdle contents herself with concern-trolling liberals to death. You'd better not cross us or we'll get you back. Unfortunately for McArdle some of the nation does not have her playground mentality and is not engaged in a permanent game of King Of The Hill, pushing off the smaller people to claim everything for herself. McArdle realizes that it would look bad to show anger at her inability to snatch healthcare from the hands of the poor
Cheer up McArdle. You may have lost America but you still have Ross Douthat and Rod Dreher.
I'm perfectly satisfied with the ruling the court got, and how they arrived at it. The court is doing fine. But the last six months have certainly cast doubt on the political legitimacy of our public debate.