Sadly, antitrust legislation is merely one of numerous examples in which the government rejects this principle. One of the most controversial of these policies in recent history is the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Before the ink in President Obama’s signature from several different pens was dry, numerous lawsuits were filed around the nation in hopes of nullifying the new health care overhaul and its corollary bill known as the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (a political maneuver which allowed Democrats to pass the first bill without amendment in the House so as to avoid a filibuster in the Senate). While a number of these suits were dismissed, many were allowed to proceed. These include Virginia v. Sibelius, Liberty University v. Geithner, Thomas Moore Law Center v. Barack Obama, and Florida et al. v. US Department of Health and Human Services. Thus far, these suits have been met with mixed results from the jurisprudes overseeing the litigation, but one suit stands alone in its level of success in reversing the legislation in question: Florida et al. v. HHS.
Though it took nearly a year to receive even a ruling from a district court, Judge Roger Vinson released his opinion on January 31. In rejection of the defense offered by the federal government, Judge Vinson firmly stated, “The individual mandate is outside Congress’ Commerce Clause power, and it cannot be otherwise authorized by an assertion of power under the Necessary and Proper Clause. It is not Constitutional.” Furthermore, Judge Vinson ruled that because the law possessed no severance clause, and because the entire purpose and function of the bill hinged upon the individual mandate, the entire law was unconstitutional. To date, that is the strongest ruling in opposition to the new health care law, and it is one of the few examples in many years in which the Commerce Clause is limited rather than expanded. Undoubtedly, this ruling was welcome news to liberty activists around the country, particularly those who saw the previous 2010 congressional elections as a referendum on President Obama’s and the Democratic Congress’s policies.
The district court was only the first of many steps. Following an appeal, the case appeared before the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta, GA. This time, the twenty-six of fifty US states currently involved in this case were not as fortunate. The three-judge panel issued a divided ruling — Chief Judge Dubina and Circuit Judge Hull ruled against the individual mandate while Circuit Judge Marcus verbally lambasted his colleagues in his dissenting opinion. Judge Marcus asserted that the Commerce Clause had expanded well outside of its original context over the last 200 years (a little-disputed fact, but not a moral or legal justification) and that it is judicially archaic to disallow another expansion as enacted by the representatives of the people. The other two, however, recognized the danger in the individual mandate, declaring that if this was not unconstitutional, then there was very little which the federal government could not regulate under the Commerce Clause. Even so, they stopped short of overturning the entire law — despite the lack of a severance clause, Chief Judge Dubina ruled that the individual mandate could be removed without harming the integrity of the act itself (something contrary to the sentiments of supporters at the time of its passing). Three months after the August ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari to the case — oral arguments for the case will be heard in March of 2012. If the justices on the Court vote in accordance with their ideologies, it appears that the deciding vote of the case will fall, as it often does, on Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Today, factions which were, only a few years ago, violent fundamentalist fringe groups without any significant power have now become violent fundamentalist political parties with all of the legitimacy that comes with that status. Bush’s refusal to deny political participation to representatives of Hezbollah and company set the tone for Obama’s military indecisiveness and placation of those who seek America’s demise. Neither administration has shown a clear and accurate concept of the enemy and, what’s more, neither major party has shown the intellectual focus to demand, for the sake of our citizens and soldiers, that a direct path toward victory be described for us. Liberals’ pre-2008 Iraq War commentary showed itself to be mere ad hominem partisanship when they failed to hold any standards toward Obama as a wartime president and conservatives allowed their defense of the war’s moral justifications to be confused with a defense of the war in the way and for the purpose that it was being fought. Let it be said: the Iraqi government under Hussein was a tyranny and an enemy to America that had no right to exist and deserved whatever befell it. However, that does not mean, in the context of the “War on Terror”, that Iraq was the most rational second act to Afghanistan — especially when one considers the now-legally-determined culpability of terrorist-backer Iran in the 9/11 attacks and Saddam Hussein’s history of having held at bay Islamic fundamentalist groups that could have challenged his power in Iraq. Iraq was merely the next in a line of guilty-by-association Middle Eastern nations, dating back to Libya in the mid-1980s, whose conflict with the United States resulted from the U.S.’s apprehension to deal with the privately-acknowledged ultimate culprit: Iran. However, as the list of nations which the U.S. has battled in lieu of Iran grows long and the government in Tehran grows bolder by the day, that conflict may not be one that the U.S. can stand to avoid anymore.
Between those two poles of Republicanism are to be found varying mixtures of those two camps. Rick Perry‘s strong start is but a memory now as his debate stumbles and misjudgments of Americans’ sentiments on social issues have undercut his chances, but not before he was able to make some firm and convicted oppositions to corporate taxation and draw further attention to the importance of border control to our national security. Businessman Herman Cain’s candidacy, though too brief, brought significant issues and discussions into the presidential debates that have continued to serve Americans even in his absence. Wall Street seems to have little to fear from candidate John Huntsman, who claimed that as president he would “right-size” the nations six largest financial institutions, as the former governor’s poll numbers remain quite low. Still, there are valid candidates who, though imperfect, have maintained formidable and principled platforms throughout the campaign. Rick Santorum, despite occasional philosophical errors such as stating that the family, and not the individual, should be viewed as the fundamental basis of our society, and the political missteps of supporting an expanded TSA and the continuance of No Child Left Behind, has shown consistency, knowledge, and a rational perspective on foreign policy issues. If not as president, his presence in that capacity would be a value to any future Republican administration.
Michele Bachmann provides an interesting case of a candidate who has seemingly said all the right things in keeping with the general sentiments of the Republican base today, has never had a gaffe or tempestuous moment in any debate, has never been refuted in debate on any major policy issue, and has a resume as formidable as most any other on stage, yet who has been consistently underplayed and marginalized in the media. When faced with such a lack of clear causality, though one prefers not to resort to such accusations, it must be considered whether the Republican base remains, to this day, averse to nominating a female presidential candidate. Granted: her early comments on social issues, particularly on gay marriage, are objectionable. However, that would likely only serve as a limiting factor in a general election. Within the limited scope of a Republican primary with a voting base still rife with social conservatives, it fails to explain her fall in the polls since starting out strong in the summer’s Iowa straw poll. Whatever their objections to her, she deserves the credit of having been the only candidate, when asked by a questioner how much of citizens’ incomes does the federal government deserve, to respond decisively that the government does not deserve their incomes and that it should only draw from them insomuch as is required to maintain its proper purposes. Such a statement is, tragically, an anomaly even in today’s shift toward a more conscientious advocacy of political/economic freedom.
It would be dangerously irresponsible to laud praise upon the Tea Party today without some qualification and criticism. The fact remains that while it has been strong and effective in standing against the growth of government, its focus is at times too narrow, its faith in the power of elections to solve our nation’s problems too limited. The needs of our nation go beyond politics, to its root and causes. If we are to change our course as a nation, we must first change our way of thinking about it: our conceptions of government and its proper purpose, its role in the international community, its responsibility to its citizens, and the moral foundation that guides all of these considerations. We, as a nation, need a new code of ethics. Just as surely as it is philosophy that guides those who would lead us astray through their altruism and nihilism, so it must be philosophy which guides us to prosperity through reason, the recognition and maintenance of human values, and a passionate adherence to the belief in the primacy of the individual. The Tea Party must learn to apply this in all things as it does in budget crises and debates over health care. It must oppose the encroachment of statism on the grounds that an individual man holds absolute sovereignty over his own life and the products thereof, that no collective is greater than the sum of its parts, and that he is not to be disposed of per the will of any majority which might gain from his efforts, his mind, his life. It must take an interest in education, in the content of ideas that are being promulgated in the universities. It is those ideas which will set the tone for the next generation, affecting whether, like so many before them, they come to view the government as a benevolent provider of anything man pleases at the expense of his neighbor or, as Washington so aptly put it, as “a dangerous servant and a fearful master” to be vigilantly monitored in one’s own self-defense. To fully defend the actions and policies of our Founding Fathers, they must turn to the intellectual causes and moral principles upon which those men based the government they created. And yes, as can be expected by those familiar with this publication’s frequent citations, they must look to the philosophy of Ayn Rand for a comprehensive understanding of the significance of the Founders’ actions that even they only partially understood.