Lessons from the Roberts Betrayal
Now that the weeping and gnashing of teeth has begun to subside in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision upholding Obamacare, conservatives are trying to make sense of the stunning betrayal by Chief Justice John Roberts. Emerging evidence suggests that conservatives had better learn the lesson of that betrayal quickly, or we will see more betrayal -- next time by our elected representatives -- in the effort to repeal Obamacare.
Conservatives tend to equate politics with civics, and we are losing America as a result. Civics tells us what government should do; politics decides what government will do. And back when the center-right majority was reading our civics books, the left-wing minority was reading Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals and learning to use political power to impose their agenda.
Alinsky’s thirteenth rule advises his followers to “pick the target, freeze it, polarize it, and personalize it.” And it looks likely that we now have Obamacare because Rule Thirteen worked on John Roberts.
When oral arguments appeared to go badly for Obamacare, Obama did not worry about preserving the independence of the judiciary; he started putting political pressure on “unelected” judges. Since the vote, Breitbart News has summarized the mounting evidence from CBS News and other sources that Roberts had first voted to overturn Obamacare until he was pressured to change his vote by liberal elitists in the White House and news media, and even by a former law professor. John Fund of National Review has pointed out how Sen. Patrick Leahy warned Roberts from the senate floor to uphold Obamacare, another bold departure from the idea of an independent judiciary. So it now appears likely that Roberts changed his original vote overturning Obamacare because of the intense pressure put upon him from the left.
If it was indeed Alinsky-style political pressure that turned Roberts, conservatives should ask ourselves why he would be more afraid of displeasing the liberal minority than displeasing the center-right majority. For that matter, why are businesses afraid of offending special interest groups on the left but not on the right? Why are advertisers afraid of boycotts from the left when the center-right majority is a far greater market?
Because the liberal minority plays hardball politics while the center-right majority plays by the civics book. Conservatives concentrate on putting the right people in office, as we thought we had done with Roberts. The left concentrates on carrying out their agenda, regardless of who is in office. The right trusts the system; the left works the system.
So now the conservative focus shifts to winning in 2012 in the hopes that a new Republican majority will repeal Obamacare. But Republicans have a long history of disappointing their voters once they are in power, and Alinsky’s thirteenth rule helps to explain why. After an election, when Republicans have gone back to work, the left goes to work on the Republicans that we put in office. With enough pressure from left-wing activists and enough negative coverage in the liberal media, many Republicans will reach across the aisle and compromise. With every compromise, government advances and liberty retreats.
Regardless of who is in office, the wheel of government always ratchets to the left because the left puts more pressure on that wheel during the critical time between elections. And the pressure on a new Republican majority to leave Obamacare standing in whole or in part will be personal and vicious. Why should we expect a Republican majority to hold up any better under personal pressure from the left than Roberts did?
Distasteful though it may be, mainstream Americans need to learn that elections only change the names on the doors. America will only turn from its catastrophic course when those in office are more concerned with pleasing the political mainstream than with appeasing the far left. And that will only happen when the mainstream learns the art of power politics; because politics, not civics, is the name of the game. The Roberts betrayal should be a lesson that trusting the people we put in office to do the right thing is a fool’s game; they will only do the right thing when we put more pressure on them than the left does.
A vocal minority gets its way in politics; a passive majority does not. Conservatives need a new contract with the people that we put in power: When you are under attack, we will have your back. But we outnumber the left by two-to-one, so don’t even think of selling us out.
Timothy C. Daughtry, Ph.D, is co-author of Waking The Sleeping Giant: How Mainstream Americans Can Beat Liberals At Their Own Game.