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.

[snip]

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.

It isn’t the Supreme Court’s job to re-write a Congressional bill that’s had its unconstitutional heart cut out

In one of his more delightful articles, Jonah Goldberg tackles Justice Ginsburg’s disingenuous claim that the most “conservative” thing the Supreme Court can do is to pick its way through all 2,700 pages of the ObamaCare bill and save all the good bits.  After politely decimating Ginsburg’s word choice, Goldberg has this to say:

The conservative thing to do — and I don’t mean politically conservative — is to send the whole thing back to Congress and have it done right. Leaving aside the fact that Obamacare largely falls apart if you remove the mandate, it’s not the Supreme Court’s job to design our health-care system from the scraps Congress dumps in its lap. What Ginsburg proposes is akin to a student handing in a sloppy, error-filled term paper, and the professor rewriting it so as to give the student an A.

Goldberg’s charming analogy reminded me of something a friend told me.  Although a conservative, she’s a strong, brave woman, and still listens to NPR.  (I don’t, because I find myself screaming at the radio too much, especially with NPR’s Israel coverage.)  During a call-in show, she said that several of the callers were deeply offended that the conservative justices used analogies, such as questions about broccoli and cell phones, to discuss ObamaCare’s provisions.  The tone seemed to be “How dare those evil conservatives dumb down a sophisticated act to appeal to the rubes in America in order to justify destroying the best legislation ever.”

I was actually reminded of someone who used analogies with incredible grace to simplify (not destroy, but make accessible) challenging ideas:

Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”

He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind [Deuteronomy 6:5]; and your neighbour as yourself [Leviticus 19:18].”

He said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?”

Jesus answered, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’ Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbour to him who fell among the robbers?”

He said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” — Luke 10:25–37, World English Bible

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He told them this parable. “Which of you men, if you had one hundred sheep, and lost one of them, wouldn’t leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one that was lost, until he found it? When he has found it, he carries it on his shoulders, rejoicing. When he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that even so there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.” — Luke 15:3-7, World English Bible

I don’t call this dumbing things down.  I call it the wisdom to drill down into something’s essential element and the skill then to communicate those core principles (whether they are good, as with the parables, or bad, as with ObamaCare) to others.

P.S.  I am not likening the conservative Supreme Court justices to Jesus Christ.  I’m just saying that smart analogies are a staple of intelligent communication, and should be admired, not denigrated.