American ThinkerBy Monte Kuligowski
An interesting reason for the "natural born" provision of the U.S. Constitution is that the founders thought it might be important for the sitting president to understand and defend the basic principles of American freedom. The universal health care push illustrates the far left's ignorance of our constitutional system better than anything imaginable. The President and every one of the ultra lefties in Congress may as well have been born in the former Soviet Union and dandled on the knee of Joseph Stalin. Their poison Ivy League educations have so indoctrinated their minds that, not only do they sing from the same sheet, but they fail to appreciate the harm they wish to inflict upon the country.
That opening paragraph might be a little hard, but when Barack Obama starts using the "God card," in his emotive sales pitch for "health care reform," the "debate" approaches a no-holds-barred level. The tactics are especially offensive coming from a man with 20 years of training from the best in how to comingle God and social justice doctrine.
After the American people started acting up, demanding that their representatives slow down and actually read the thousand pages of bureaucracy-creating legislation, they were dismissed as angry mobs. When that didn't work, the liberal Democrats and their accomplices in the media tried playing the race card. And recently, Mr. Obama has cranked up the morality and religious rhetoric in a final effort to sell government health care to an unbelieving public.
President Obama now presents his health care "reform" arguments in the either-or, black-or-white syllogisms of which liberal intellectuals routinely accuse conservatives. "These struggles always boil down to a contest between hope and fear," claimed Obama on Aug. 19 in a conference call sponsored by 40 Days for Health Reform, a coalition of the religious left. The New York Times notes that, "The president also called on people of faith to â€˜spread the facts and speak the truth' about health care reform."
"We are God's partners in matters of life and death," preached Obama during another conference call with about 1,000 rabbis from across the country. To borrow from George Bush, I guess you're either with us or against us in the fight for government health care. And, apparently God is more than just on Obama's side -- He is Obama's partner.
In his efforts to summons the faithful to promote ObamaCare, Mr. Obama challenged the alleged
fabrications that have been put out there [like that of the inevitability of rationed government care] in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation. And that is that we look out for one another, that I am my brother's keeper and my sister's keeper, and that the wealthiest nation on earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call.
When Barack Obama was making millions from autobiographical book sales his younger brother, George Obama, was living in abject poverty in a tiny hovel in Kenya. Certainly, George might have wished a time or two for his older brother to be his keeper. Many liberals and most Marxists, unfortunately for George, are only generous with taxpayer money, not their own.
The words of President Obama, exposing his belief in government health care as a "moral obligation" go to the core of the health care debate.
The key problem with liberal thinking on the subject lies in a subtle confusion over jurisdiction. In speaking of an ethical and moral obligation to care for one another, Mr. Obama is, of course correct if we are speaking in context of religious duty. But as soon as we bring the government into the equation we are no longer speaking of morality but of legality. The federal Congress cannot pass law based upon religious obligation. The federal government cannot force anyone into moral obligation -- unless, of course, the boundaries are confused.
Imagine a conservative President appealing to the people with religion and morality as the basis to pass major legislation. It doesn't require a lot of imagination to picture the reaction of the neutral, unbiased news media. Do you think separation of church and state would be an issue?
Liberals tend to not only confuse the boundaries of the federal government, but also those between heaven and earth. They don't understand that heaven cannot be established on earth and all attempts to create state-run paradises have failed and will continue to fail. Of course, they need absolute central control to try and try again.
When the country's moral framework was strong, families, religious institutions and communities cared for their poor without the federal government. Of course, the weakening of national morality and the breakdown of the family is commensurate to the perceived need for government as savior. When moral obligations seemingly become too large, opportunity arises for people like Barack Obama.
Unfortunately, the moral obligations in Obama's world involve the force of government.
The other angle used to sell government health care overlaps with moral obligation and it is that of a "right." Today, many believe they have a "right" to free health care. If they have a legal right, then government has a duty. If people have a right to "free" health care then the government has the duty to seize money from other people to pay for it.
The problem in liberal thinking in the area of health care rights also involves a confusion of jurisdiction.
The individual states ratified the Constitution in order to become a sovereign country; but in so doing the states did not surrender all of their sovereignty. The bifurcated system that resulted is referred to as American federalism. The powers of the federal government were to be "few and defined," as James Madison put it (national defense, taxation to run the government, etc.). According to the 10th Amendment, all powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states and to the people. Madison assured that the powers of the individual states were to be "numerous and indefinite." All matters of family, health care and morality should rest securely with the states.
The rights of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution are largely negative rights; that is, American liberty is realized in being free from excessive central government to pursue happiness and individual responsibility. Americans, historically, have been free to work hard, retain doctors, establish hospitals and health insurance and lead the world in health care and medical technology. Obama, unfortunately, seems to lament our system of negative rights, as he hinted in 2001 while employed by the University of Chicago as a constitutional law senior lecturer:
The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in the society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution . . . that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can't do to you [13th, 14th, 15th Amendments]. Says what the Federal government can't do to you [Bill of Rights], but it doesn't say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf. . . I think, the tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.
Now that the Chief Organizer is at the helm redistributive change is on the way. President Obama seems to prefer a "progressive" Bill of Rights which confers positive rights; that is, rights the central government must provide via the taxpayer. South Africa's new Constitution is one of the world's most progressive and confers a laundry list of positive rights including rights to sufficient food and water, housing, education and, of course, "health care services, including reproductive health care."
South Africa's Bill of Rights is a clear example and warning of what happens when the boundaries between religious morality and state are confused. When the confusion of the far left goes unchecked, the welfare state is expanded ad infinitum.
Monte Kuligowski is an attorney and constitutional law scholar, published in the Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy, the University of Richmond Law Review, the Cumberland Law Review and the St. John's Journal of Legal Commentary. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.