Many people ask me about the force of the Tea Party and how they have gotten to be such an influential movement. The video above is one example.
In the video above,and as linked by Drudge, a California Congressman Pete Stark, has a civil exchange with what looks like a constituent. The exchange goes badly, I will maintain, for the congressman.
The lady’s argument goes something like this: If government health care is a right, then the government has to force others to deliver to the people what is rightfully theirs. BUT, she goes on, this is in violation to inalienable rights of we are born with–viz., the right to work relatively unencumbered and keep what we earn by the sweat of our brow. In other words, Obamacare is a taking of our property in some fashion. The government will force us to give services to others and hence, take a portion of our free labor from us. That, she opines, is slavery, and she points to the Constitution’s 13th amendment as evidence that Obamacare would violate the abolition of slavery.
Is it? Or even better, is she right that Obamacare does that? I am not so sure her argument is exactly correct. She modifies her statement by saying requiring a service of someone is a “form of slavery.” In that, she is correct. We will lose freedom under Obamacare there is no doubt about that–our taxes will go up, the ability to choose a doctor of choice will likely be eliminated, the freedom to purchase affordable care on our own will disappear, and some people will be forced to serve others (all of us) who possess the right to health care, etc. But that is not slavery like we saw in the South. It is slavery of a certain type though, and it does cement to the government a people more. Instead of relying on themselves, it will force the people to look first to the government, and not to themselves, their families, their states, their localities, their churches, for assistance. Slaves, are ultimately made in such ways, as Locke might say. The government is going beyond providing for safety and securing rights by further entangling itself into the private lives of others. This is unlimited government–a government that will violate the natural rights of others–not a limited government.
Her second question is straightforward: if the government may Constitutionally require health care, what may the government NOT do? This is an interesting question, and it trips up the congressman, who admits, the government may do just about anything it wants. He is roundly booed by the audience. In other words, Stark is saying, the Constitution really does not matter, and that the government gives dispensations on what rights are, or are not. So, even if the lady in the video is wrong about the comparison to slavery, Stark takes her words as legitimate, and then says, yes, the government may do pretty much anything it wants.
The people are pretty incensed at his honesty. They seem to understand that if the government may do anything, in principle, then it may do anything. The lady gets indignant at the end saying such a position would destroy the country. This is where Stark does himself no favors, politically, he smugly says that if she is there to save it (the country) that makes him feel very comfortable.
One of the reasons the Tea Party has maintained momentum is because the perceived arrogance of elected officials on both sides of the party. Before the Democrat takeover in 2004, the voters (not really a tea party vote at that time) were incensed by the corrupt Republican Congress. Now, in 2010, we are seeing somewhat a repeat of voter wrath. Stark’s ridicule of the voter (even if she was obnoxious, as some will no doubt claim), reinforces an “I am better than you” persona in the party. You can’t win elections with that kind of message. And, when you throw in the fact he does not believe the Constitution is really a power limiting document, you add new fuel to the fire of the Tea Party. It confirms their worst fears.