Where Were You When the Republic Died?

In November 2008, Americans elected a socialist as their president. In March 2010, they woke up stunned to find themselves living in a socialist country.

Health insurers -- once private companies -- are now organs of the federal government. Every citizen is a ward of the state, which can now compel you to have insurance, punish you if you don't; determine if your insurance is acceptable, punish you if it isn't. Thousands of new federal bureaucrats will soon spill from the D.C. Beltway and flood the country, scrutinizing our finances to verify compliance with this new law.  

A government that grants itself this kind of power over us can conceivably do anything to us.  For our own good, of course. Such a country is in no meaningful sense "free."

And this is only the beginning. Liberals are salivating in contemplation of all the fanciful window trimmings that can in the future be hung from this legislative framework. Public option will soon appear as prelude to single payer, as was the intent all along. Soon, Americans won't even have the illusion of a choice -- the government will move from subsidizer to provider, and it will be the only game in town.

So what's next?  Some look to the states as possible saviors. Please. The states long ago surrendered their sovereignty, and they are now junkies on federal monies, which they need for schools, roads, Medicaid, and much else. If the citizens are now wards of the federal government, then the states long since preceded them in that sorry servitude.

The individual? What are we going to do, not pay the taxes to support this beast? Oh, they'll take that from you before you ever get your check; we gave them that power to them long ago, remember. March on Washington, en masse? Lot of good that's done thus far.

The Republicans? Assuming the GOP can take back both houses of Congress and the White House in the next couple of elections (by no means a sure thing), can you name one gigantic entitlement enacted by liberals that Republicans have successfully repealed? Or even made serious effort to repeal? Ever? Anyone? 

The Courts? Sure, maybe Obamacare will work its way through the courts, and maybe the Supreme Court will finally take up the case (there is no guarantee of that, remember), and maybe the Court will not have tilted left by then, and maybe the Justices will declare it unconstitutional. Then what? Who will enforce this decision? Obamacare is already unconstitutional on its face, and yet it is the law of the land. Do you think the Democrats will say, "Oh, all-right, never mind," and cheerfully strike it from the books after their successful five-decades-long crusade?  

And even if a court challenge is eventually successful, how much of the bureaucracy will by then already be in place, how many of the thousands of new regulations already in effect, how much of the billions in new taxes and fines collected, how many jobs killed, how many middle class families addicted to the entitlement? 

There's a reason why Democrats were desperate to ram this through at any cost -- once enacted, such things are all but perpetual. Former freedom-loving peoples begin to tell themselves that it's really not so bad. Sure, government is forcing you to eat state-approved gruel, but hey, at least they hold the spoon, and they even pour a little sugar on top when you're good. 

The worst part of watching the proceedings unfold on Sunday was the endless stream of commentators and pundits calmly discussing this bill as if it were just one more piece of bad legislation that we will have to live under. In fact, what has transpired is nothing less than an overthrow of the old Constitutional order. 

In 1776, the American Republic boldly announced its birth with the Declaration of Independence. In 2010, it quietly expired with a declaration of dependence -- on government, on entitlement, and on the Democratic party.

Matt Patterson is a National Review Institute Washington Fellow and the author of Union of Hearts: The Abraham Lincoln & Ann Rutledge Story. His e-mail is mpatterson.column@gmail.com.
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