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Section A: General News


Editorial: Was defunding ‘ObamaCare’ in Tea Party’s power?




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Thomas Sowell
November 20, 2013 | 2,182 views | 43 comments

Third parties have had an unbroken record of failure in American presidential politics. So it was refreshing to see in the Tea Party an insurgent movement, mainly of people who were not professional politicians, but who nevertheless had the good sense to see that their only chance of getting their ideals enacted into public policies was within one of the two major parties.

More important, the Tea Party was an insurgent movement that was not trying to impose some untried Utopia, but to restore the lost heritage of America that had been eroded, undermined, or just plain sold out by professional politicians.

What the Tea Party was attempting was conservative, but it was also insurgent -- if not radical -- in the sense of opposing the root assumptions behind the dominant political trends of our times. Since those trends have included the erosion, if not the dismantling, of the Constitutional safeguards of American freedom, what the Tea Party was attempting was long overdue.

Obamacare epitomized those trends, since its fundamental premise was that the federal government had the right to order individual Americans to buy what the government wanted them to buy, whether they wanted to or not, based on the assumption that Washington elites know what is good for us better than we know ourselves.

The Tea Party’s principles were clear. But their tactics can only be judged by the consequences.

Since the Tea Party sees itself as the conservative wing of the Republican Party, its supporters might want to consider what was said by an iconic conservative figure of the past, Edmund Burke: “Preserving my principles unshaken, I reserve my activity for rational endeavors.”

Fundamentally, “rational” means the ability to make a ratio -- that is, to weigh one thing against another. Burke makes a key distinction between believing in a principle and weighing the likely consequences of taking a particular action to advance that principle.

There is no question that the principles of anyone who believes in the freedom of American citizens from arbitrary government dictates like Obamacare -- unauthorized by anything in the Constitution and forbidden by the 10th Amendment -- must oppose this quantum leap forward in the expansion of the power of government.

There is nothing ambiguous about the principle. The only question is about the tactics, the Tea Party’s attempt to defund Obamacare. The principle would justify repealing Obamacare. So the only reason for the Tea Partyers’ limiting themselves to trying to defund this year was recognition that repealing it was not within their power.

The only question then is: was defunding Obamacare within their power? Most people outside the Tea Party recognized that defunding Obamacare was also beyond their power -- and events confirmed that.

It was virtually inconceivable from the outset that the Tea Party could force the Democrats who controlled the Senate to pass the defunding bill, even if the Tea Party had the complete support of all Republican Senators -- much less pass it with a majority large enough to override President Obama’s certain veto.

Therefore was the Tea Party-led attempt to defund Obamacare something that met Burke’s standard of a “rational endeavor”?

With the chances of making a dent in Obamacare by trying to defund it being virtually zero, and the Republican Party’s chances of gaining power in either the 2014 or 2016 elections being reduced by the public’s backlash against that futile attempt, there was virtually nothing to gain politically and much to lose.

However difficult it might be to repeal Obamacare after it gets up and running, the odds against repeal, after the 2014 and 2016 elections, are certainly no worse than the odds against defunding it in 2013. Winning those elections would improve the odds.

If the Tea Party made a tactical mistake, that is not necessarily fatal in politics. People can even learn from their mistakes -- but only if they admit to themselves that they were mistaken. Whether the Tea Party can do that may determine not only its fate but the fate of an America that still needs the principles that brought Tea Party members together in the first place.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His website is http://www.tsowell.com.

Copyright 2013 creators.com
 

Your Opinions and Comments

 
Senior Citizen  
Wilson County  
December 4, 2013 7:51am
 
Alvin, ... a low amount of participants is a good thing??? so, the objective was not REALLY to get people on insurance was it? ... and who cares about the choppy rollout? Well, maybe the taxpayers who were ripped off to tune ... More ›

 
PRAIRIE GROUCH  
GRAND PRAIRIE TX  
December 4, 2013 7:29am
 
The last known location of the US Ship Obamascare was somewhere in the North Atlantic and it was encountering choppy water and reported sightings of icebergs.

 
Alvin Charmaine  
December 4, 2013 6:39am
 
Does a bumpy rollout that lasts a couple of weeks matter? Who cares how many sign up, who cares about the blip at the beginning of something that will last in perpetuity? Its just news fodder and not substantive, the rollout ... More ›

 
PRAIRIE GROUCH  
GRAND PRAIRIE TX  
December 3, 2013 8:03pm
 
Funding.....have the young and healthy subsidize the old and sick. Obstacles....Let the young and healthy stay on their parents policy until age 26. Institute a waiver of preconditions so the young can wait until they need ... More ›

 
BlackHorse  
Next Door  
December 3, 2013 12:19pm
 
After a fiasco of a rollout, and the dichotomy in the press. Its very hard to maintain an objective "we'll see" position.

 
Rock'n chair Rambler  
Over Taxed, TX  
December 1, 2013 10:29am
 
Whoa, ya'll. To continue the feed lot metaphor, I think you are all chasing the empty bucket on this one. The question raised by Thomas Sowell's excellent article is not about rehashing Obama-scare. In case you haven’t noticed, ... More ›

 
Bob Pritts  
St Hedwig, TX  
November 30, 2013 7:56am
 
My Opinion "shallow and ignorant" are assessments of conditions. They are not 'mame calling'. And, the beauty is, they can be corrected by rational people who may be willing to listen and consider new ideas. ... More ›

 
PRAIRIE GROUCH  
GRAND PRAIRIE TX  
November 30, 2013 7:25am
 
My Opinion and Bob Pritts......My Opinion accuses Bob Pritts of name calling and slandering, then calls him shallow and ignorant. Interesting. :)

 
MyOpinion  
Floresville  
November 29, 2013 8:52pm
 
Bob, Seriously? I have seen enough slandering and name calling from both sides on these blogs to last a life time. I have said before - People who resort to name calling and putting labels on people will never win an argument. ... More ›

 
Ex-Tiger  
CA  
November 28, 2013 9:08am
 
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: "Look out for the Obamacare balloon. It's the one that never gets off the ground". - David Letterman

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