The other day I read an article that made an interesting point. I’ll have to paraphrase since I can no longer find it. The point of the article was this: “It is constitutional to fight Obamacare by defunding it.”
While trying to find the article again so I could link it in this post, I found a lot more articles. Some, on the left, called defunding unconstitutional. Meanwhile, others on the right said it was fine and dandy.
So, what’s a regular idiot like me supposed to think? These are (presumably) people who know about this sort of thing, went to school, studied it, and know a hell of lot more about the nuts and bolts than a dolt like me. And, lo and behold, all of these so called experts don’t seem to agree. Worse, their varied opinions appear to be based on ideological turf.
Which way is up?
I like to assume that through all of the bullshit there must be some truth somewhere. But perhaps not. Maybe, in some cases, there is no truth.
Either way, though, I like to think even a village idiot like myself can draw some valid deductions from this tsunami of flotsam.
I used to attend City Council meetings. They had all these little time-honored procedures for doing this, that and the other thing. Basically just a bunch of stupid traditions. The fun part, though, was when they’d happily shit on their own rules of good form just to fuck over someone they didn’t like and/or agree with. I believe this shows how quite well how government can be eerily similar to private enterprise.
After one such meeting, I approached the city attorney and pulled him aside. “What you guys just did in there was bullshit and you know it. You changed the rules. Besides, in the end, it wouldn’t have mattered and you’d still have gotten your way. Stupid and petty. It’s unfair. It’s inconsistent.”
The attorney turned on me and put all of his pithy debate skills on display. “You’re a hobgoblin.” Then, quite unnecessarily, he added, “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
So close. The actual quote is: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Wanting to fuck someone over isn’t enough of a motive to throw consistency out the window.
The actual quote, in entirety, is this:
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, First Series, Self-Reliance
I’ve never forgotten the twofold lesson of my encounter with that career bureaucrat. Not only will those who think they have power fuck you over but they’ll sneer as they do it.
The rules of lawmaking at the Federal level have become so much more complex and bizarre. Over time the Constitution has been extrapolated into rules of parliamentary procedure that make absolutely no sense. And, of course, when circumstances dictate a desire for a good fucking over, those rules get bent, are subject to end-arounds, or simply get changed to become new rules.
The problem? What you want today may bite your ass tomorrow.
“Ha ha!” one political party shouts in glee. “Queen takes pawn. Take that, motherfucker! I win, I win. I got your pawn!”
Then, four years later, when the political tides have turned, the other side finally gets to make their move.
“Pawn takes queen.”
Insert any fancy political dust bunny you like into this equation. Cloture. Recess appointments. Filibuster. And all of the various ways presidents have self-expanded their powers. “I’m the president. That makes it legal.” And, of course, defunding laws you don’t like.
Guess what? Let’s say you’re right, or at least that you win and get your way. Let’s say Obamacare gets defunded. What really just happened?
The answer should be obvious to any chess master who doesn’t normally sacrifice a queen to take a pawn. The rules just got changed. And as soon as the scales tilt away from your favor, guess what? The other side is going to bust that strategy all over your ass.
Republicans defund Obamacare in 2013? Democrats are going to defund the shit out of everything else until the cows come home. Switch positions. Rinse. Repeat.
At least until the next loophole exploit end-around the system. Then the pendulum will swing some more.