The Blog

The Mandate Represents What’s Wrong With Democrats

6:00 AM, Jun 27, 2012 • By JAY COST
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society--the farmers, mechanics, and laborers--who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. 

The individual mandate is an overwhelmingly unpopular item that requires a patently unjust transfer of wealth for the purpose of paying off the interest groups that have the biggest financial stake in health care. Considered next to Jackson’s veto message: It is a signal that the Democratic party has become the opposite of what its founders intended to be. The individual mandate is a testimony to the broken nature of the modern party. It is a symbol that, despite their egalitarian rhetoric, contemporary Democrats are ready, willing, and able to bend the policy needle toward the interests of “the rich… and the potent,” at the expense of the “farmers, mechanics, and laborers.”

Let us hope that the Supreme Court has the good sense to do away with this awful innovation.

Despite what liberals may say, the individual mandate represents a qualitative expansion in the powers of the federal government, the likes of which we have not seen since the 1930s. We can be confident that the Democratic party as it is currently constituted lacks the ability to use this new power in a socially responsible way.

If the Court allows Washington to mandate commerce in order to regulate it, this will open new, terrible avenues for the Democrats to pay off their client groups, at the expense of the public good. Today it is a mandate to buy a policy from Aetna; but who knows what tomorrow may bring? Clever Democrats could surely find some “compelling” reason for private parties to contract with the SEIU, AFSCME, the UAW, the Sierra Club, NOW, or any of the wide assortment of narrow interests that depend on the Democratic party for their patronage.

Jay Cost is a staff writer for THE WEEKLY STANDARD and the author of Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic, available now wherever books are sold.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 20 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers