The battle over healthcare reform is over and, like many Southerners, Henry McMaster cannot bring himself to accept history's verdict.
Yes, our attorney general is suing the federal government to block implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was duly passed by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and signed into law by President Barack Obama. And McMaster is not alone. He is one of 14 state attorneys general who are in an unholy alliance to deny Americans healthcare. To be precise, this act will provide healthcare for 30 million Americans without coverage and will add 16 million Americans to Medicaid. But Republicans want none of it. In fact, they voted against it unanimously in the House and the Senate.
Having failed to win through the democratic process, they are now off to the courts. And to emphasize what an utterly partisan jihad this is, all but one of the state AGs are Republican.
But back to Henry McMaster.
A few days before the House passed the healthcare reform bill, McMaster, who has been a member of an all-white country club in the Midlands, told the AP, "We are ready to kill it. When the national government and Congress start going wild, it's up to the states to rein them in."
Good legal theory, but McMaster has never been known for his legal intellect. This is the same lawyer who went wild in 2005 and defended a town council's decision to hold a prayer to Jesus before meetings. He took the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and he lost — something any knowledgeable person without a law degree could have predicted. Since that embarrassment, McMaster continues to maintain that there is no difference between praying in church and praying in public meetings.
Now this genius wants to chase another rabbit to the Supreme Court, joining the other AGs in claiming the new law violates the 10th Amendment, forcing people to buy insurance which they may not want. (Remember this the next time you write that check for your auto insurance.)
As with the town council prayer case, McMaster's chances at the Supreme Court are slim to none. Most legal scholars are leaning toward none.
"10th Amendment challenges are generally not very sound," University of South Carolina law professor Jay Bender told a Florence television station. He said he thinks healthcare and health insurance are covered under interstate commerce.
"Interstate commerce is specifically delegated to Congress in the Constitution, and this is the same sort of argument I suspect Republicans made about social security, income tax, and all those other political things they didn't like," he said.
And why does McMaster want to waste the resources of this bankrupt state on his fool's errand to the Supreme Court? I give you once again Professor Bender:
"If you're running in a Republican primary for governor, you would challenge the federal government at every opportunity. And my suspicion is that's what Henry is doing. He's appealing to his base using the 10th Amendment," Bender says.
McMaster is one of at least three angry AGs who are seeking higher office this year.
Yet, there is something even more troubling here. In his eight White House years, George W. Bush ran up record deficits, committed the greatest intrusion into local schools (No Child Left Behind) since Jimmy Carter established the Department of Education, and created the largest, most expensive entitlement program since Medicare (the Medicare prescription drug benefit program). Throughout eight years of surging debt and government expansion, we did not see angry white men taking to the streets, carrying guns, talking about secession, nullification, and states' rights.
Secession. Nullification. States' rights. Historically, this is the rhetoric of slavery and segregation. Why are we hearing it now? Could it be because America has its first black president and some people — like die-hard Confederates — just can't get over it?
I can hear the howls of righteous protest even now, but how else to explain the irrational behavior of so many white people? How to explain the raving of Glenn Beck or the lies of other right-wing pundits and provocateurs, such as the columnist at Investor's Business Daily, who wrote that healthcare reform is "affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on skin color." Only a professional liar could say such a thing, and only a fool could believe it. But there are plenty of each in the ranks of the GOP and the Tea Partiers. People that detached from reality are a threat to American democracy.
See Will Moredock's blog at charlestoncitypaper.com/blogs/thegoodfight, including Strom Thurmond's 1973 endorsement of healthcare for all.