Today, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare
) and its individual mandate on the basis that the penalty for failing to purchase healthcare amounted to a tax, which falls under the authority of congress to levy. As expected, Democrats rejoiced at the news and Republicans are fuming. How could it be, that Chief Justice John G. Roberts, who was appointed by George W. Bush and vouched for as a "good conservative" by a Republican dominated congress, voted with the left on one of the most divisive issues in American politics? Maybe it's because the Republican Party is no longer the conservative party that everyone thought it was? First, we need a brief history lesson.
The two party system in the United States originated from the difference in ideas of two early influential founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. When keeping in mind what our current political parties are supposed to represent, Alexander Hamilton, the godfather of the big government Federalist Party would closely align with modern day Democrats. Thomas Jefferson, the godfather of the small government Anti-Federalists, would almost surely be claimed by modern day Republicans. Why is this important? It's important because there was a distinct difference between the two parties when the two party system came to fruition. Since that time and especially since the end of the civil war, that difference has grown smaller and smaller.
In 1960, Senator Barry Goldwater Jr. penned what is widely hailed as the book the defined modern conservatism for an entire generation of Republicans, 'The Conscience of a Conservative'. Senator Goldwater, along with Senator Robert Taft, were once the standard bearers for their party and influenced an entire generation of conservative politicians including Ronald Reagan. In many ways, the baby boomer generation and their offspring, still partially identify with this type of conservatism, at least in rhetoric. However, for many of these folks, their view of what qualifies as conservatism has veered from its once solid principles, being redefined by insurgent groups like the neoconservatives and moral majority.
It's important to identify these two groups and what they believe in order to understand how we got to where we are today. The neoconservatives (neocons) trace their roots to the left, from the American Trotskyist movement of the 1930's and 1940's. During this time period, the progenitors of the movement were anti-Stalin leftist supporters of Roosevelt's big government Keynesian economic policies, namely the New Deal. It's important to note that Trotskyists are still communists, however, they were opposed to the Stalinist brand of communism that dominated the USSR and many were in fact killed in Stalin's Great Purge of 1937-1938. This opposition to Stalin put them at odds with how traditional Americans viewed communism, which in their view was defined by the USSR and thus, the American Trotskyists were not labeled communists like Russians.
As time progressed, during the 1960's, these liberal Trotskyite Democrats grew weary of the Democratic Party, especially what they saw as the "new left". The "new left" was dominated by the socially progressive youth, who through the counter-culture peace movement, held what the neoconservatives considered to be anti-American views, largely due to their peace loving stance of non-interventionism on the Vietnam war. Thus, led by Irving Kristol; Pro war Socialists, social democrats, and leftists, became socially conservative New Deal supporting Republicans who believed in a new type of liberal conservatism which they called "neoconservatism". An important identifying facet of this group is their Trotskyist belief in permanent revolution ("spreading democracy") through the use of pre-emptive war via an interventionist foreign policy. This is easily demonstrated by their support of the war in Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Syria and soon to be Iran.
This brings us to the other group, the Moral Majority of the 1980's, an evangelical Christian-oriented political lobby led by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. This group, already mostly Republican, was interested in forming a political coalition to unify the "religious right" to gain political influence and counter the same socially progressive youth spurned by the neoconservatives. Primarily interested in advancing what they called "social conservatism", this organization sought to create legislation that essentially codified the traditionalist social values of the 1950's. By focusing on social issues, many in this group, especially those led by paleoconservative presidential candidate, Pat Buchanan, were able to rationalize and claim that they were still conservatives
because of their views supporting non-interventionist foreign policy and conservative economic dogma. They’re often criticized for attempting to legislate morality, which by the creation of "moral" laws, actually expands the size of government, which is not a conservative position.
If you take a look at the current establishment of the Republican party, you will see that it's basically dominated by politicians who adhere to beliefs forged by merging the ideas of big government neoconservatives and the moral majority, while echoing the fiscal rhetoric of Goldwater. The policies that followed during the Bush years as a result of the merging of these two groups were; The wars and nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan, bipartisan police state measures like the Patriot act, a partial-birth abortion ban, censorship of "obscene" material on the internet, expansion of social welfare programs like Medicare part D and the wholesale government takeover of our education system via No Child Left Behind. This article isn't about those policies; they are merely a result of the merging of the aforementioned ideologies. However, with those ideologies in mind, are we really surprised that a "conservative" like George W. Bush appointed a Supreme Court Justice who upheld further government expansion into healthcare?
President Obama has merely been an extension of the principles of President Bush. President Bush expanded healthcare via Medicare, Obama has done it through Obamacare. President Bush practiced an interventionist foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama has continued those wars and has started new ones in Libya and soon to be Syria and Iran. President Bush shredded the 4th amendment with the Patriot act, President Obama has resigned the Patriot act and expanded the domestic surveillance apparatus and taken away civil liberties. I can continue down this path for a very long time and keep showing you examples of how each party is now one in the same. The only real difference comes when you watch the 24 hour news cycle and you see politicians on “different” sides of the aisle bicker over petty issues like contraception.
So how is Obamacare a victory for Conservatism? Because, it makes it clearly evident that the Republican Party is no longer the party of principled limited government or constitutional conservatism as preached by the heroes of ages past, Thomas Jefferson and Barry Goldwater. The Obamacare victory at the hands of “conservative” Chief Justice John G. Roberts has created a schism in the Republican Party that will cause more and more people to question what conservatism really means and move them yet further to the right. They will question whether electing a person like establishment Republican Mitt Romney, the only Republican to ever sign into law top down government healthcare legislation with an individual mandate, is really what this country needs after all. As the economy continues to weaken under our mountain of debt, people will begin to see that the interventionist foreign policy, and Keynesian economic solutions proposed by the GOP’s “presumptive nominee” are only more of the same. People want real, principled conservatism, which means more than just empty platitudes spouted off by plastic candidates on the campaign trail.
If you want evidence of the resurgence of conservatism, look no further than the fastest growing political movement in the country, the self-proclaimed “liberty
movement” of the followers of Congressman Ron Paul
. Take into account that since 2008, the Ron Paul revolution has doubled in size and even quadrupled in many states, all while both major parties continue to lose members. People are tired of the same old politics and are hungry for something different. Compare Dr. Paul’s record and rhetoric with that of Goldwater and Jefferson and you’ll see they’re very similar, yet completely different from what both major parties offer voters today. This is the contrast that voters are seeking. This is where the conservative movement will once again find its principles.
Will Ron Paul become president? Probably not. However, as Samuel Adams once said: “It does not take a majority to prevail... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”. Ron Paul has reminded us of our principles and as one of the last members of congress to stand for them, re-lit the brushfires in the minds of liberty loving men and women across the country. Obamacare’s passage is a loss for America, but because of today’s decision by a “conservative” Supreme Court justice, real conservatism will grow stronger. As Victor Hugo once said and Ron Paul is fond of quoting “An idea whose time has come, cannot be stopped by any army or any government”. Today, the time of true conservatism has come and the future belongs to the Ron Paul revolution.