The Obama Administration decided to pass up an opportunity to appeal the decision of the 11th Circuit court judges ruling the individual mandate as stated in the Affordable Health Care for America Act (Obamacare) as unconstitutional. Due to the fact that judges from the 6th Circuit court issued a separate ruling to uphold the bill as constitutional, the case will likely be subject to a Supreme Court hearing just months before the 2012 election.
People who are against the bill believe it is unconstitutional because it allows government to force Americans to purchase something under the penalty of a fine or worse, therefore taking away our right to choose. Although this is a valid argument, one must consider as Steven Colbert has pointed out on his show, ‘The Colbert Report,’ “the government cannot force you to buy health insurance, they can only force you to pay taxes, go to war, sanction you, torture you, incarcerate you and execute you”.
Colbert is of course is referring to the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act, as it was originally passed gives federal agents the authority to search and seize property of American citizens without justification of probable cause, a blatant violation of the fourth amendment to the constitution. It also allows the government to jail Americans indefinitely without being formally charged, monitor conversations between attorneys and clients and deny Americans the right to legal representation, all of which are violations of the sixth amendment. Also, the Patriot Act allows the government to monitor religious and political institutions as well as the authority to prosecute librarians or record keepers for telling anyone the government subpoenaed information related to a terror investigation. Finally, and most horrifying of all, this legislation grants the president of the United States the unilateral authority to declare any American Citizen, an enemy combatant, therefore giving the president of the United States the power to have any American citizen killed without due process. We have already seen the immediate consequences of this bill from the assassination of American citizen, Samir Khan of Charlotte of North Carolina who was guilty of nothing other than spreading anti-American propaganda in Yemen. There is a name for a type of government that affords its highest ranking government official this power, a dictatorship.
Colbert’s statement points directly to the blatant anti-democratic contradiction inherent in the legislative process that has become the norm in Washington. It seems oddly hypocritical that so many Americans would be against a law that forces them to buy health insurance but for a law that takes away their most basic constitutional rights. The reason for this is in what the two bills have in common rather than how they differ. They are both extremely long bills which most congressional representatives admittedly have not completely read before being forced to vote on. Consequently these bills were passed through congress without the full understanding of the congressional representatives elected by the American people let alone the American people themselves. How can this happen in a democratic society built on the principles of a nation “for the people, by the people and of the people?” The answer is one simple word, fear.
History has shown that fear is the powerful instrument of control of any political or religious organization or institution. It is one of the most powerful of human emotions and can be linked to almost any of the world’s most heinous atrocities against humanity. Hitler used it to inspire an entire generation of Germans with anti-Semitic propaganda that lead to the holocaust during World War II. Fear was the driving force behind the Salem witch trials as well as multiple hate crimes committed against African Americans, homosexuals and other minority groups throughout our nation’s history. The government used fear to sell the Iraq war to the American people and let us not forget that it was indeed fear that inspired the terrorist attack on our great nation resulting in the loss of nearly 3000 American lives more than ten years ago.
Yes it is true that the threat of terrorism in our country today is more real than ever before and extreme circumstances require extreme measures. However we, as American citizens cannot allow the fear of terrorism cloud our judgment to such an extent as to be willing to give up our most basic civil liberties. After all it is liberty that has defined us as a nation and given us the ability to lay claim to some of the greatest accomplishments of mankind. Although the threat of terrorism is indeed scary, the threat against our way of life that our founding fathers fought for so dearly for–democracy–is far scarier than anything else.