I cannot be certain, but The Patch article concerning the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act (or "Obamacare") may just be the single most popular article The Patch has ever posted.
If the number of reader comments is any indication (801 as of this writing) and the number of votes in the non-scientific poll that is part of the article offers any hint (6748 votes so far), this article has drawn more direct reader participation than any previous Patch article, ever.
It is more than safe to say that many Patch readers feel very strongly one way or the other about this topic. I know this to be true because I am among them.
For those who have not yet read the actual Supreme Court Opinion, I strongly encourage you to do so. I've attached a .pdf version to this article.
My interest in this historic Supreme Court decision has less to do with healthcare and more to do with what I consider to be a far bigger and far more significant picture: Our federal constitution and the impacts this decision will have (has already had) upon the constitution's ability to continue to constrain the power and authority of the general (federal) government.
First, allow me to say, right up front, that I am not necessarily opposed to the theory of universal healthcare or to some variation on the theme of universal health care. Much of our own American society is ordered according to methods that are clearly more socialist, or socialized, than not.
My objection has more to do with the idea that this approach to health care should be applied on a national scale in the United States. Many developed nations seem to have adopted universal healthcare with varying degrees of success. Proponents point to nations like Sweden, Canada, and the United Kingdom as models the U.S. should try to emulate.
Though many proponents seem reluctant to admit this truth, nationalized universal healthcare systems are not without considerable challenges of their own. Nor are any of those other nations organized as constitutional republics None of those nations has a constitution that was ratified with the specific idea of insuring the greatest degree of personal liberty and individual freedom to citizens, by imposing strict and specific limits on the general government.
This brings us to the bigger-picture concern I have with Obamacare. It is the same bigger-picture concern I have every time the federal government exceeds its specifically-enumerated counstitutional bounds. Through Obamacare, the federal government can now compel you, me, and every other adult legally residing in the U.S. to either purchase a product, or pay a penalty (which it calls a tax) for declining to do so.
Think on this for a moment. Regardless of whether you happen to like this particular product or not, do you really want the federal government to have that much authority over your personal decisions about whether or not you will buy this (or any other) product?
I can assure you that I most assuredly...most emphatically...do not want the federal government to have that sort of authority over my daily life. The reason is simple: If the federal government can control my personal purchasing decisions and daily life in this area, it can and most assuredly will try to do so in others.
That is not the sort of nation I desire to live in. Nor should it be the sort of nation any of us has to live in.
The entire concept of a constitutional republic has to do with the idea that the general government has a few, very limited, specifically enumerated, powers and, beyond those, power and authority is reserved to the States or to the people, as individuals.
This is precisely how it is possible (and quite logical) for presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Willard Mitt Romney to have helped enact a form of universal healthcare in his home State of Massachusetts, yet be opposed to the same or a similar sort of system for the entire nation.
Governor Romney seems to understand the concept of federalism.
He appears to understand that what may have proven good and desireable for Massachusetts may not be good and desireable for Delaware, or Texas, or some other State. Gov. Romney seems to understand what President Obama clearly does not seem to:
That the people of each State should be able to decide for themselves what sort of universal healthcare program (if any) that want to institute in their own States.
The logical result of this -more constitutionally compliant- approach is that some States, like Massachusetts, will enact universal healthcare while some other States will not. Because this is so, people who desire to live in a State with universal healthcare can do so and those people who do not desire to live in such a State, are likewise free to not do so.
In other words, through the federalist approach -the approach our nation was founded upon, the approach our constitution defines- we enjoy a far greater degree of personal freedom and individual liberty than otherwise. We have more options from which to choose how we, as sovereign individuals, prefer to live our own lives. More choices about how we desire to raise our families.
That is the "forest" so many seem to be missing, while they are fixating on the monstrous and rotted "tree" that is Obamacare.
It is high time to take some giant steps back, my friends. To acquire a much broader focus, and much deeper understanding.
Obamacare is just one, very large, very sick "tree", but the entire "forest" that is our freedom is at very serious risk.
I very much welcome your questions and comments.