Unchecked power drove health care reform

© St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Tad Armstrong

The outcome of lawsuits challenging the health care reform law will depend upon whether the legislation is just so massive that the justices would return to the principles set by the framers of our constitutional form of government.

In 1943, Justice Robert Jackson said the majestic principles of our Constitution “grew in soil which produced a philosophy that the individual was the center of society, that his liberty was attainable through mere absence of governmental restraints, and that government should be entrusted with few controls and only the mildest supervision over men’s affairs.”

These were the principles that enabled the world’s “tired and poor huddled masses” to actually “breathe the freedom they yearned for” that enabled them to attain prosperity for themselves and for their brethren in need. These were the principles our federal officials have forgotten.

We were not even respected enough by the sausage makers to allow us to witness much of the process. I suppose they thought we weren’t grown up enough to handle the full extent of the corruption going on behind closed doors and, to tell you the truth, that’s just fine. I saw enough out in the open to last a lifetime. And still, there is no shame.

I would address the legal theories if I thought that lawsuits held the best hope of recovering from this Orwellian nightmare. But, alas, even if successful, a judicial remedy is not the best fix for what is primarily a political problem.

And the odds of getting an answer before the end of the year are slim. We don’t have that much time. After all, the health care law is only a symptom of a disease that threatens the very foundations of this country.

James Madison knew that unchecked power corrupts. We have three branches of government, in part, so that each can act as a check on the others. This Congress has failed to respect the will of the people by checking the power of a president who was elected to lead, not rule.

The best hope of curing this disease lies in the greatest constitutional check we have for abuse of power – the voting booth. There are at least 278 reasons why this country is on the brink of becoming a third-rate economically crippled power – 219 of them are in the House, 58 are in the Senate and one at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. These part-time residents of Washington, D.C., have misjudged the character, intelligence and will of Tea Party folks and the conservative movement as a whole.

I remember Nancy Pelosi telling us that “after the bill passes and we then find out what’s in it, all would be well.” If the 278 think that between now and November they can spin a mountain of corruption, lies, back-room deals and the creation of countless new administrative agencies into a magic potion that this country will actually drink, they are hopelessly out of touch with their employers.

But their most incredible error in judgment is in believing that these concerned Americans don’t care how the sausage is made. Just as “the bill” was never about health, this movement is no longer about “the law.” Process does matter – it is atop of the conservative agenda.

In November, jobs of 257 of the 278 elected officials will be up for grabs. After this conservative movement lets them know that their services are no longer wanted, they will be instructing their new representatives and as many of the rest of Congress that still has a job that it is finally time for some real change in the District of Columbia. Lip service no longer will be an acceptable answer to corruption, earmarks and “Pelosi-speak.”

Conservatives believe that getting back to founding principles will provide far better options for 30 million of their uninsured fellow citizens who have been exploited in all of this, such as a health care system that actually has a chance of working and a job that would otherwise be lost.

Finally: Every time the 278 insult the intelligence of the American people by attempting to paint conservatives as radical hate-mongers, they strengthen our resolve and increase our numbers. I don’t expect them to learn from this advice because they are incapable of shedding the cloak of arrogance they thought Americans would fail to recognize.


  1. Roy Miller says:

    I sure would like to know what the Conseratives believe in helping the 30 million in this country? It’s a very well kept secret! My two kids are living below poverty level and they can’t afford the insurance now. Most recent times they had eight years, what did we get two unpaid for tax cuts and two unpaid wars! They had the chance to help children who had no health coverage and they voted it down! Americans helping Americans, now that’s a concept I can go for and I sacrificed 21 years of my life for in the US Air Force.