The beginning of Spring 2010 marks an historic moment in American history: A nation organized as a republic is being transformed into a tyranny. The healthcare bill that has been bruited over for weeks will be law of the land giving Washington, D.C., control of one-seventh of the national economy.
More significantly, this act violates the Constitution in several critical ways. All Americans will have to obtain healthcare insurance whether they want it or not. The act also forbids repeal even if the Republicans recapture control of one of the houses of Congress in the next election.
By any measure this is a coup d’etat, with the President employing a combination of threats and blandishments to achieve his revolutionary goals.
Supporters will argue, of course, that this act universalizes healthcare and that detractors are exaggerating its effect. But it should be noted that the cost will be at least a trillion dollars. These costs are on top of the accumulated debt that has reached unparalleled proportions in the last year.
Moreover, this bill is being imposed on the American people who oppose the legislation by margins between 60% and 70%. It would seem that proponents are driven by an ideological fervor that is resistant to public opinion. If the Tea Partiers have any traction it is largely because of the President’s overreaching. The public seemingly understands what many in the Congress do not. Personal freedom—the ability to choose a physician and select appropriate treatment if it is needed—will be imperiled. A bureaucrat will have the latitude to determine your fate which means rationing is the inevitable outcome.
Charles Eliot Norton, 19th Century author, sounded the clarion call for our own time when he wrote in True Patriotism, “The voice of protest, of warning, of appeal is never more needed than when the clamor of fife and drum, echoed by the press and too often by the pulpit, is bidding all men fall in and keep step and obey in silence the tyrannous word of command. Then, more than ever, it is the duty of the good citizen not to be silent.”
Should Americans awaken from their slumber they will realize—I believe—that their most valuable possession, the liberty the Founders conferred, has been taken away from them in a coercive effort to make citizens slaves of the state or, at the very least, dependent on the state. This is the time to shout from the rooftops “we won’t take it anymore.”
As I see it, the very fabric of society is being shattered with legislation that materially changes the way we live. Walt Whitman wrote: “If the people lose their roughness and spirit of defiance—Tyranny may always enter—there is no charm, no bar against it—the only bar against it is a large resolute breed of men.”
I would add that a state so expansive it cannot recognize its natural and constitutional limits ultimately transforms freedom into tyranny even if this is not the initial intent. That explains why the Founders constructed a limited government based on the recognized fallibility of human nature. They realized that the tyranny they opposed and fought against can emerge from within through an emboldened government that believes only it knows what is best for the governed.
It would appear that President Obama does not appreciate the fact that unlimited power invariably corrupts the mind of those who possess it. This is the place where the rule of law succumbs to the pressure of despotism. And whether recognized by all or not, healthcare is the wedge that is altering America.
In 1776 Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Alas, 2010 is a time, not unlike the American Revolution, when our national soul is on trial and the very liberty we were enjoined to defend is slipping away from our grasp. President Obama argues healthcare is a calamity, a crisis of unusual depth, but as history notes “necessity” is usually the justification for every infringement of liberty. Necessity is the argument of tyrants; the creed of the despondent.
How the nation responds to this government overreaching remains to be seen. But it is not an exaggeration to suggest the future of the republic may depend on that response.