This past weekend was an extraordinary time in American politics for those of us who followed the events of the past few days. My wife is always quick to remind me, however, that we are in the minority and the rest of the world is just trying to make a living and live their lives.
That said, I tried to step back and observe these events from a 30,000 foot view, to use a well-worn cliché. I’ve arrived at some conclusions regarding this past weekend in Washington.
There is no such thing as a “Blue Dog” or pro-life Democrat. The kabuki dance performed by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and his coalition of self-proclaimed “pro-life” Democrats should put to rest once and for all the notion of a “conservative” Democrat. If one is truly conservative in principle, it is impossible to be a loyal Democrat.
Therefore, conservatives who choose to be Democrats out of heritage, tradition or family history should take a good, hard look at the party whose banner they carry and what it has become. It’s safe to say whenever a Democrat adds a prefix to their party affiliation, it’s to deflect attention from the fact they are, first and foremost, Democrats.
Rep. Stupak positioned himself for months as a person who understood the right to life, the first unalienable right in the Declaration of Independence, is the wellspring from which all other rights are derived, and belongs not to the State to act upon as it chooses, but to a higher moral order that transcends the State. He reaped the benefits of his principled stand and became a national figure whose importance well exceeded the boundaries of his congressional district.
He declared he would never give in, particularly given the enmity he had already endured for his stance. Yet, in the end, he did just that. We conservatives who counted on him were burned once by Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), but were hopeful Rep. Stupak would be different. He is not.
This is not to proclaim the Republicans to be the party of ideological purity, either. It is easier to be a Democrat and ideologically consistent, however, because it is easier to say “yes” to demands for more government services than it is to say “no.” The bottom line is that political parties have one principle above all others, and that is to acquire and hold power. We, the voters, have to show them that if they abandon principle for political expediency, they will lose power rather than gain or retain it.
The Tea Party movement is at a crossroads. The press and pundits will say the Tea Party movement failed yesterday because it did not prevent this historic expansion of government into our lives. It will also accuse the Tea Party movement of racism, homophobia and hatred because of the angry outbursts given wide coverage this weekend.
Every protest movement has its outliers, and the left conveniently has amnesia about the violent and hateful elements of their protest movements of recent vintage. The Tea Party protesters can’t hold a candle to the left when it comes to arrests, damage to public property, or the proliferation of slogans and images defaming the President of the United States. I don’t seem to recall a whole lot of outrage from the Democratic leadership, or the common use of an sexual epithet to describe those protesters.
The overwhelming majority of Tea Party protesters are everyday middle and working class Americans genuinely frightened about the growth of government and the deficit spending which, in two years, will exceed what President Bush spent during his entire eight years in office.
The inordinate focus of the press and the left on the racists and hate-mongers in our midst is misleading and self-serving, especially coming from that lover of disruptive dissent herself, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. It is particularly reprehensible because these petty potentates are supposed to be public servants, yet they feel perfectly justified in demeaning the people whose votes and taxes provide for their livelihood.
That said, life isn’t fair, and the Tea Party movement must do its best within its loose confederation of organizations to police itself and purge the movement of the bad actors as they reveal themselves. Nothing less than firm and immediate action against these hateful people on the fringes of the movement will do.
As far as the passion of the Tea Party protesters is concerned, do they have a right to be angry? Yes. The Democrats and some Republicans seem determined to advance their agenda regardless of what the public thinks – government despite the people.
If they have conceded they could lose their jobs but their consciences compelled them to go against popular opinion, then bully for them. As their heads hit the pillows tonight, they can sleep soundly because, in their minds, they did the right thing.
If they believe, however, they cannot be defeated, or the people will forget or are too stupid to understand what they have done, they have chosen…poorly.
In just under an hour, the number of “fans” on the Facebook page of one of Rep. Stupak’s GOP opponents went from 300 to over 6,000. As I’m writing this, the number is up to 15,523 and increasing at a rate of 20 new members every 30-60 seconds. He had no way of accepting online donations yesterday until a PayPal account was set up for him. He made $20,000 in one night! Should his opponent decide to do an online “money bomb,” his campaign will have more than enough funding to take on Rep. Stupak in the fall.
The pro-abortion groups won’t help Rep. Stupak because of his antics with the original House language on abortion, and he is dead to the pro-life groups, one of which rescinded an award he was to receive on Wednesday night. If he doesn’t have a current resume, he needs to start working on it now.
I know there are several more Tea Party rallies planned between now and the election, but the Tea Party movement needs to shift its focus from the streets to the ballot box. They need to be registering voters, educating their members on the candidates and issues of importance to them, and working hard on behalf of like-minded public servants to replace the current occupants of the people’s seats who’ve been corrupted by their long stay in Washington, DC, and need a one-way ticket back home.
Obamacare fundamentally changes America - The Democrats have passed the most significant piece of social legislation in American history. This nearly $1 trillion program gives government controlling interest in one of the most intimate of human relationships, the relationship between a patient and their doctor regarding the patient’s personal health.
The argument that it’s not a “government takeover” is pure bunk. No, it’s not single-payer health care or an expansive public option on the order of the health care programs in Canada or Europe, which I believe is the desired end state for many Obamacare supporters. President Obama’s declaration, however, that this is a “moderate” program doesn’t square with the fact that it moves the needle in a decidedly leftward direction, and places government squarely in the critical path of health care decisions.
Government now has the authority to dictate what private health insurance companies can charge their customers for premiums. If the ability to regulate premiums, which has a ripple effect on reimbursements to hospitals, drug companies and medical service providers, isn’t de facto government control, then what is it? If mandated reimbursements do not cover the operating costs of a family practice or internal medicine business, causing doctors to close up shop and preventing new doctors from entering into these critically short-handed disciplines, are the consequences the result of free market forces or government diktat?
For the first time in our nation’s history, the federal government is mandating its citizens purchase a specific good or service, or face punitive action. If citizens robbed of the choice of whether or not to purchase health insurance isn’t a massive intrusion of government into the personal lives and decisions of its people, that what would you call it?
Some observers have suggested the Democrats’ near-suicidal determination to make this bill into law reflects a greater agenda, the permanent integration of the federal government into the lives of every American, a signature achievement that cannot be taken away from them regardless of which party is in power going forward.
This represents a fundamental transformation of America's identity, and I do not consider it hyperbole to say that we will cease to be the nation our founding fathers designed us to be.
The America envisioned by the founders is a nation where the individual is sovereign, government exists solely to protect our rights and enforce our laws, free markets allow us to reap the full fruits of our labors, and religion and morality inspire us to love our neighbors and share our bounty with them in times of need.
Our metamorphosis into a nation where government rather than the people reign supreme, and government is our provider as well and our protector and enforcer, is nearly complete.