Last week, Senate Republicans were given bad news by Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough. She doesn't believe Republicans can bypass cloture and repeal Obamacare with a simple majority by attaching its repeal to a spending bill.
As a libertarian, I'm glad to hear it. No, I do not like Obamacare any more than I like most other government programs, especially those that further enrich multi-billion dollar corporations on my dime. But I'm glad it's still difficult to get things through the Senate. That's how it's supposed to be.
But progressives should feel differently. The should want to see at least two bills pass both houses, one repealing Obamacare and one blocking the president's immigration policies. Progressives profess a belief in democracy and the Republicans have been democratically elected to both houses. Whether you agree with them or not, there's no question repealing Obamacare and reversing the president's immigration agenda were two of their strongest mandates.
If progressives truly believe in democracy, they should take the high ground and demand that Democratic senators stand aside and allow a repeal of Obamacare to pass in the Senate. They kicked and screamed when Republicans used Senate rules to block legislation when Democrats had a majority in that house. Now, the shoe is on the other foot.
It's time to find out if the Democrats are any more principled than the Republicans. If it was wrong for Republicans to "obstruct" the Democrat's agenda for the past ten years, if they were truly undermining the government's ability to do the will of the people, then it is just as wrong for Democrats to use the same tactics now. If we truly live in a democracy, Democratic senators should accept the verdict of the people and let Republicans pass their bills.
Ironically, they could do just that without worrying too much that their precious health care program would go away, precisely because we don't live in a democracy. The president's veto is just one of the many checks built into our Constitution to protect us from democracy. There are several others.
The first ten amendments of the Constitution are among the best and strongest. In a way, I'm glad the first two originally proposed amendments weren't ratified. As a result, the first five words of the First Amendment became "Congress shall make no law."
It almost doesn't matter what comes next. The most important principle established in those five words is that even a democratically-elected legislature can't pass any laws it wants to. It made explicit what was already implicit in the Constitution itself.
Thank goodness for that. As poor a restraint as they've been, just imagine how much worse things would be if the Bill of Rights didn't exist, and every law struck down over the past 226 years because of those amendments had been allowed to stand.
If Democrats were to allow Congress to truly act democratically and bills repealing Obamacare and reversing the president's immigration policies were to pass, the president would veto them. If they were honest with themselves, progressives would rejoice that one man stood in the way of democracy.
As much as I'd like to see Obamacare repealed, so would I.
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.