I'll be on vacation starting Friday. I'll be posting occasional vacation-themed blogs between now and when I return on July 16th.
NEWS BLOG (WSAU) To my conservative readers and friends. I’ve heard your complaints. Health care reform, and last week’s Supreme Court ruling, has changed the country. With a 5-4 ruling we’ve gone over the fiscal and entitlement cliff. There’s no going back. All is lost. There have been many on the political-right who had to rouse themselves to celebrate Independence Day – and the best they could do was celebrate America the way it used to be.
I share the concern. I don’t share the pessimism.
The worries are obvious. We already have a national debt that is staggering. It is growing, not shrinking. Health care reform makes it worse. This will be a drag on an economy that’s already growing at a painfully slow pace. The situation is unsustainable. Without changes, the day of reckoning will be ugly.
Why am I not worried?
Because the thing that makes our nation great is that we can change it. That’s the biggest blessing of our democracy. Don’t like the way things are going? Win the argument. Rally at the ballot box. Vote-in people who’ll change it.
Easier said that done. Of course it is. It takes 60 votes to get anything done in the U.S. Senate these days. No one will have it. The Supreme Court is unaccountable to anyone. Undoing wrong court decisions takes a generation. Amending the Constitution is next to impossible.
All of those things are wrong. The changes the conservatives have in mind are difficult, but not impossible. Complaining about them instead of working towards them makes them less likely to happen.
For 16 of the last 50 years, one party or the other has a 60-seat majority in the Senate. It happened most recently in 1979 – hardly ancient history. And in the Senate, with staggered terms and state-wide boundaries, it’s easiest to get people to cross lines instead of voting in lockstep.
The Supreme Court does indeed right its wrongs. Citizens United corrected dozens of supposedly-settled cases on campaign finance, and it happened only two years ago. Despite the bad-law of the 5-4 Roe v. Wade ruling, the court has revisited and refined issues of abortion and birth control countless times since then. There will certainly be other health care challenges; the tax or penalty issue may indeed by revisited or at least clarified.
While amending our Constitution is difficult and lengthy (as it should be), it is not impossible. It’s happened 17 times.
The next time I hear someone complaining that the American experiment is over and that the nation has hopelessly been changed, tell them that they’re being lazy. The methods and framework to change anything in the United States exists. Change happens or doesn’t happen because of political will, or lack of it Time spent complaining is better used being persuasive, winning elections, and shaping policy.
Maybe we are on the wrong track. I’m thankful that the path to change lies in convincing my friends and neighbors. In other nations, when monarch or dictator make poor choices, who corrects them? This is what’s exceptional about America. Change is driven by We The People. That’s worth celebrating on this Independence Day.