It’s no big secret that President Obama drinks. The White House even brews its own beer. The nuclear football probably has a breathalyzer or something like it, just in case. If he had been president in the 1920s it would have been a big issue because drinking alcohol was illegal. That’s what happens when big government gets its hands on a social movement. Americans lose their liberty.
Nearly a century later things are little different. Politicians seize social movements and use big government to hammer laws into place that we don’t want. When you hear public officials haranguing voters about a national movement you can bet they are rousing support for something they, not the people, have created.
A social movement to recreate America for whose benefit?
What the Obama administration fondly calls the Great Recession created one of the greatest opportunities ever for using government to refashion America. Barack Obama seized the moment:
But one of the things I was confident about was given my history and concern on issues of freedom, democracy, civil society, my own background as a grassroots organizer that the policies that the United States pursued would be ones that would focus on the idea of liberty and how do we build that from the bottom-up.1
Whether we were delivered freedom, democracy, and liberty depends on which half of the partisan divide you occupy. Did he mean being free to do things within the constraints dictated by his government?
You lost your liberty so Obama could destroy health care.
Kathleen Sebelius helped sell Obama’s biggest social movement so we could make health care better:
By maintaining these important basic protections for all Americans – no matter which state is their home – we will combine the benefits of a national movement to improve health and health care with the local innovations that have always made our nation great.2
Ironically, Obama’s failure to come clean about the reality behind his own national movement denied Americans liberty by taking away health coverage they liked while requiring them to navigate the vagaries of a broken system for selling insurance. Regardless of what happens with the Clinton-inspired, pre-midterm election push to give Americans back their health policies, Obamacare took away our liberty and put the freedom to decide in the hands of big government. (Update 11/14/13: The White House adds insult to injury by suggesting those losing coverage could be allowed to re-enroll to enjoy their health plans for one more year, potentially at higher rates).
States and employers gave up their liberty for you.
Before she devoted her time to apologies, rationalizations, and explanations, our Health and Human Services Secretary made federal control of state insurance laws sound like a positive thing:
In the last ten months, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has already made $2.8 billion available to states to help them begin to reform the disjointed and often dysfunctional health care systems serving their populations. Those funds allow state leaders to invest in improvements even at a time of record state deficits.3
“Force” would be a more appropriate word than “help.” States were told to give up their liberty on your behalf and are now required to maneuver through exchange provisions, high-risk pool regulations, and to decide what to do about Medicaid, the elephant in the room we stopped talking about. Employers have fared just as poorly and even lost control of a bargaining chip in the quest to attract talent as high end health plans came under the scrutiny of Obama’s tax men. (Update 11/14/13: States have another headache coming if the president makes good on his announcement that he will send a letter to insurance commissioners so Americans can temporarily get their health plans back).
Democrats either misunderstood or understood too well their leader’s promise of liberty, freedom, and democracy. They have trampled everything in their path in their zeal to stamp out American health care. Now we know what Harry Reid meant when he said:
And as we commit fully and firmly to “liberty and justice,” we must commit just as fully and firmly to the idea that that [sic] liberty and justice should truly be “for all.”4
Putting laws on the books that restrict liberty to level the playing field doesn’t give us more freedom. It just makes it easier to force Americans to do the things Democrats have decided we should be doing.