Conservatives will have to take many small steps to reclaim America

One of my favorite blogfriends sent me a link to John Yoo’s article excoriating Justice Robert’s decision in the harshest terms.  Yoo states plainly that the decision spells the end of individualism in America, since it expands the government’s taxing power to encompass everything.  Those who seek a silver lining (or ponies or lemonade) are deluding themselves, Yoo argues:

All this is a hollow hope. The outer limit on the Commerce Clause in Sebelius does not put any other federal law in jeopardy and is undermined by its ruling on the tax power (discussed below). The limits on congressional coercion in the case of Medicaid may apply only because the amount of federal funds at risk in that program’s expansion—more than 20% of most state budgets—was so great. If Congress threatens to cut off 5%-10% to force states to obey future federal mandates, will the court strike that down too? Doubtful.

Worse still, Justice Roberts’s opinion provides a constitutional road map for architects of the next great expansion of the welfare state. Congress may not be able to directly force us to buy electric cars, eat organic kale, or replace oil heaters with solar panels. But if it enforces the mandates with a financial penalty then suddenly, thanks to Justice Roberts’s tortured reasoning in Sebelius, the mandate is transformed into a constitutional exercise of Congress’s power to tax.


Given the advancing age of several of the justices, an Obama second term may see the appointment of up to three new Supreme Court members. A new, solidified liberal majority will easily discard Sebelius’s limits on the Commerce Clause and expand the taxing power even further. After the Hughes court switch, FDR replaced retiring Justices with a pro-New Deal majority, and the court upheld any and all expansions of federal power over the economy and society. The court did not overturn a piece of legislation under the Commerce Clause for 60 years.

Yoo is correct about the decision’s effect, and new evidence showing that Roberts was motivated more by politics than constitutionalism.  Nevertheless, this war is not over as long as we don’t surrender.

Rightly or wrongly, the bottom line is that the Supreme Court will not pull conservative’s political chestnuts out of the fire.  America is stuck with the government the majority elects.  Conservatives sat on their collective backsides for 40 years as liberals took over one institution after another.  They sowed, they reap.  We weep.

John Will is a Brazilian Jujitsu martial artist who makes an interesting point when he teaches, one that sank into my brain and that still surfaces periodically when I get overwhelmed by things:  we tend to get into trouble because we’re unaware that we’re heading into trouble.  Few of us race to disaster.  Instead, we head that way step by unwitting step.  We can pull back at any time, but we don’t.  If we were at the water’s edge, you would see that few of us jump into the deep end.  Instead, we just keep walking, unaware that the water is rising, right up until it hits our mouth.  That’s bad.  What’s really bad, though, is that we think we can take a giant leap and suddenly be on dry land.  That’s not what happens.  Sadly, too many who assume that a giant leap is all there is, end up panicking when the leap fails — and there they are, stranded and helpless.

Will’s point is that, whether in jujitsu or life, one cannot instantly and completely pivot away from a slowly developing disaster.  If it took 48 steps to get you in up to your nose, it might take 49 to get you back to dry land.  In jujitsu, that means a victory might be freeing your elbow or your knee, so that you can go on to liberate the next body part from your opponent’s grip.  In politics, a start might be holding the House and taking the White House.  Not as good as all three political branches, but better than just one.

Here’s the deal:  We’ve had decades to get ourselves into this fix.  We — that is, we conservatives — will not reclaim the country in November.  Nevertheless, this election, and the next election, and the election after that, each represents one of the small steps we must take so that the Supreme Court ruling is a tocsin and not a death knell.

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  • Earl

    This I buy… long as we all agree that Roberts’ decision is NOT one of the steps back from the abyss.  It’s the opposite – he’s said “Don’t take THAT slope….come over here and go down THIS one!”
    No thanks.
    But it is SO correct that people who wake up November 7 (or whenever) with a new President and say “Whew! Dodged a bullet – our troubles are over.” are setting the stage for a continuation of the slow-motion disaster we’ve been living pretty much since Herbert Hoover (a great “progressive”, in case anyone has forgotten).
    There are LOTS of small steps to take…and maybe some leaps – like abolishing half a dozen or more federal departments and putting their bureaucrats out on the street to look for productive work.
    Let’s stick with it, this time!

  • Danny Lemieux

    My fear is that the Obama administration and Democrat Congress have buried so many fiscal and economic landmines during their tenure that are set to explode during the next Administration. Obamacare tax increases are one, another is Taxmaggedon.

    The Democrat Left is very good at collecting accolades for expressing the good intentions of their proposals (“free” healthcare for all) and leaving it to the Republicans to collect the boos of the masses for having to clean up the messes (tax increases to pay for it). A good example is GW Bush getting the blame for the 2008 financial crash that was brought on by Democrat policies that he opposed while Dodd and Frank skate free.

    If Romney wins, he will have a very tough clean-up job to do and it won’t be pretty.

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  • Karl

    The left has been very successful in its use of “incrementalism” — eating the whole salami one slice at a time.
    We’ve had a century of small changes — an issue comes up, and the “compromise” always manages to move us a little bit toward government control. This is particularly true when some issue which has not been under government control are brought up for consideration, and 1% of the way toward government control is the “compromise”.  For example, we might “compromise” on banning sodas larger than 16 ounces.  It’s a “compromise” compared with banning all sodas completely.
    Conservatives need to adopt the same technique.
    Sure, cutting taxes once is good, even if we have to have the cuts expire in ten years. But the job isn’t done!  Extend the sunset provision by a year or two, as a “compromise” with a five or ten year extension.  Cut taxes one or two percent, as a “compromise” with a five or ten percent cut.  Instead of eliminating all barriers to buying health insurance across state lines, allow some sort of compromise solution — maybe companies in one state can sell policies from out-of-state insurers “on consignment”.
    Make the fans of government control “compromise” on how much of their position they give up at any given increment.

  • Duchess of Austin

    This is just anecdotal, but my friend has a 30something son who has just awakened to the fact that Obamacare is going to take a huge chunk out of his check.  A chunk he can’t afford.  *smile*
    If we are lucky, there are millions of 30somethings out there coming to the same conclusion.  There is still hope.

  • LSBeene

    Actually changing Washington would be simple if done in a few big chunks:

    1)  Simplify the tax code to a one line sales tax.  One of the ways Congress wields power, and gets others to come to them and kiss their rings (or butts) is by having everyone and their lobbyist coming in, hat in hand, to urge “fairness” in the tax code.  Now we have a 70,000 page tax code.  With this simple fix (excempting ONLY food), no one would need to go and kiss the butts of Congress Critters and “total coincidence” pay into their re-election campaign.

    2)  Start Chopping whole departments – starting with the Dept of Ed.  Three Words:  Total Mission Failure.

    3)  Remove any and all rules and laws that make Congress exempt to any and all laws we citizens have to face – they are not nobility.

    Right now the incentive for utopian dreamers to want to enter gov’t and start pulling levers is enticing becauase gov’t has so much power – we need to reduce that incentive.


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  • Earl

    Danny:  Part of GW’s problem was that he’s a “doer” and not a “teacher”.  He REALLY needed to be out there using his bully pulpit to teach the citizenry WHY Dodd and Frank’s policies were so terrible, AT THE TIME they were proposed, right up to the vote and afterward.  Ronaldus Magnus was better at this, but Bush should have found a spokesman if he couldn’t do it.
    LSBeene: I’ll join you on chunks number 2 and 3 immediately.  I will NOT vote for a national sales tax unless and until it is bundled with a repeal of the amendment allowing the income tax.  If we don’t do this, we’ll end up with both – count on it.  Do NOT settle for an attempt — the sales tax does not become legal until the amendment repeal is passed by the required number of states.

  • LSBeene

    I agree Earl – it was meant as a complete replacement for the previous (current) tax code.

  • Ymarsakar

    Earl, one of the reasons the LEft knew they had to snipe off Sarah Palin is because she is someone who would have used the bully pulpit and got in the LEft’s face… about EVERYTHING they did. Similar to Andrew breitbart. Neutralizing those two, were higher priorities than anything they ever wanted to do against Bush or Republicans.

  • Ymarsakar

    “If Romney wins, he will have a very tough clean-up job to do and it won’t be pretty.”

    Do you think the Left will give Romney half as much time as they asked for Obama?