In Obamacare, the Supreme Court entered a world of paradox matched only by the nonsensical universe of quantum mechanics. Schrodinger’s cat is a famous thought experiment that according to quantum theory suggests that a cat in a box is simultaneously dead and alive until you open the box. Similarly, Obamacare’s individual mandate according to the federal government was simultaneously a tax and not a tax in court proceedings, until Chief Justice John Roberts issued his opinion and declared it a tax.
Yet conservative pundits are telling us to hang on to the silver lining.
Silver linings sound wonderful. Enlightened and positive people see them as small beacons of hope glimmering through harsh reality. The problem is that silver linings are accompanied by roiling masses of mile-high thunderstorms spanning several states that sweep through the mid-Atlantic in a dark red Doppler line, leaving a devastating warpath of death and destruction from which power companies still haven’t recovered. (bonus irony points for running straight through Washington, DC).
The silver linings may not even be real.
As talk radio host and former Reagan administration official Mark Levin noted in National Review, the court’s non-concurrence between the conservative wing’s dissent and Roberts’ own opinion doesn’t create precedent. Even stipulating that Roberts did set a precedent, what good is another theoretical victory on paper when the tax-hiking, job-killing, healthcare industry destroying Obamacare is still on the books? The only silver lining of bounding the commerce clause is its usefulness in stopping something like Obamacare.
Newsflash: Obamacare is already here. A head coach in football can gameplan and create a theoretically airtight defense, but if the defensive line doesn't knuckle down and collapse the pocket, they'll lose.
The other silver lining is the myth that Roberts preserved the reputation and legitimacy of the court. Taking a decoder sheet to Congressional laws and the Constitution to maintain respect in the eyes of ideological opponents is a lost cause. If we didn’t learn this from the John McCain experience, the NY Times’s reminded us when it issued a scathing broadside in the form of a Sunday editorial called The Radical Supreme Court, which went so far as to suggest that the Roberts court was destabilizing the entire legal system.
Conservatives scan the sky for silver linings. Liberals go in for the kill.
The presidency alone will not do the trick. Republicans need to fight tooth and nail for dominant majorities in both the House and Senate, and keep this paradigm in place long enough to appoint enough Supreme Court justices so if one or two go John Roberts’s third way, there are enough left over to prevent further damage.
Responsible and engaged citizens must always fight back the siren call of the nanny state. There’s no easy way to a strong majority. It takes consistent, unrelenting, wholesale effort.
Just as Arthur Brooks makes the moral case in his Road to Freedom and Scott Walker gutted through in Wisconsin, conservatives must win the one vs one tactical battles everywhere they find themselves engaged. The left plays for keeps. They understand that winning in reality is better than winning on paper. Penetrating the cultural Maginot Line takes sacrifice and guts, not contorted Supreme Court opinions.
Enough with the silver linings. Time to start bringing the thunder.
Robert J. Guenther is a political commentator and editor-in-chief of BiasBreakdown.com. He can be followed on Twitter @biasbreakdown.