The 5-4 decision is, in the words of Mitt Romney, a reason to defeat Obama this fall, an odd sentiment given that Obamacare’s individual mandate was first put into action by … Gov. Mitt Romney.
Closer to home, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley repeated himself, calling the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 “the single worst piece of legislation to come out of Congress.” (More on that below.)
Across the airwaves, social media outposts and the conservative blogosphere, similar expressions were heard Thursday. In short, “a once-great nation” (as one conservative advocacy group’s press release noted) was heading down the tubes because of a law that aims to provide health insurance to 30 million Americans currently without it, protect the sick from losing coverage and stabilize rising costs. Ah, who indeed is for the freedom to go bankrupt because of a debilitating malady?
A little perspective is needed. We’ve been here before, often. Other high court rulings have supposedly had the power to fundamentally reshape the United States for the worse.
Many on the left side of the equation saw something similar in the court’s 2000 ruling on Bush vs. Gore, which ended the disputed presidential race and effectively awarded the presidency to George W. Bush. In the heat of the moment, Democrats were as despondent back then as Republicans were Thursday.
However, our nation still stands strong. The predictions declaring the end of the United States proved false, just as similar declarations uttered in the wake of Thursday’s ruling will ultimately crumble into dust.
In fact, prognosticators declaring this court ruling or that law placed the nation on the road to ruin have a lousy track record. At one point or the other, the creation of Medicare, the passage of Social Security, the court’s ruling to desegregate public schools and scores of other big moments in the history of the United States were said to put us on the road to ruin.
They did not.
The United States remains strong. The march of progress continues, awkwardly at times but generally upward. In fact, we are better because of the court’s ruling Thursday. Health care as a basic right for all citizens has long been established in all other industrialized democracies. Several presidents from Harry Truman forward have tried and failed to establish universal coverage. The logic is simple: A nation is stronger if its citizens are relatively secure that illness doesn’t have the power to financially destroy them, which until the passage of Obamacare was the poor state of health care in the United States.