National Commentary

Whichever Way on Health Care

Whichever way the U.S. Supreme Court ruling goes on President Obama’s health care reform this week, Obama will be the winner, even if the American people won’t.

Here’s the reason why: the reform was crafted to benefit many millions of Americans, directly or indirectly most of us, and if the Supreme Court strikes it down, or a big part of it, Obama will have all of us who recognize this on his side as he makes slamming the partisan court a big theme in his re-election effort.

Needless to say, if the court upholds it, then even better for Obama. But either way, the real vulnerability in all this, politically speaking, is the discredited Supreme Court, itself. By coming down against health care reform, it will have established only its latest marker as a pliant footstool for the monied interests behind the effort to unseat the president.

It bears repeating the key indicators of the court’s partisanship: stopping the counting of the vote in 2000 to hand the presidential election to George W. Bush, and defining corporations as people to permit unlimited, anonymous contributions to political campaigns in the infamous “Citizens United” decision. A blow against health reform will only be the latest, and more convincing, self-indictment.

Some argue that studies indicate Bush would have won, anyway, in 2000. But that was far from the point. The matter had to do with counting the people’s votes, not who won. The Supreme Court took the extraordinary move of intervening in a state matter after the Florida high court ruled in favor of counting all the votes in an election whose outcome was within a couple hundred votes.

It was an abomination at the time, requiring a marked departure from the Supreme Court’s until-then respect for state’s rights. Apparently high level people in this land really wanted Bush in, and we can only imagine how much wealth they were able to accumulate under his watch in the mobilization and execution of the unprovoked invasion of Iraq and the unprecedented financial bubble leading up to the Great Crash of 2008. Neither of those would have happened with a Democrat in the White House.

Spoiling the outcome of one presidential election in 2000, this same Supreme Court did what few believed was possible – to eclipse the world-historical scandal of the 2000 ruling with one even more egregious, even more fatal to democratic values. That was the 2009 “Citizens United” ruling on unlimited, unaccountable political campaign contributions.

This week’s health care ruling needs to be seen in that context, and will be by a growing majority of Americans who will be impacted directly by its effect.

That’s because the ruling won’t simply enfranchise one group – the rich and powerful – in our population, but because it will directly, negatively impact and harm tens of millions of American citizens.

President Obama has gained his advantage for re-election this November by providing benefits to those millions of struggling Americans who elected him in the first place. By saving the U.S. auto industry, he saved countless jobs. By granting young immigrants, here illegally or not, an ability to remain to complete their educations and keep their families together, he won over a vast majority of immigrant-Americans of all nationalities and races.

By affirming full equality under the law for lesbian and gay Americans, including support for their marriage rights, he not only has delivered for them, but for the many multiples of millions of Americans who have family, friends, co-workers and classmates impacted by that support.

In other words, what will continue to bedevil Obama’s enemies is the fact that his support is grounded in the vast majority of Americans he has helped, and vows to continue helping, despite how badly Bush wrecked the national economy.

His base of support lies in his concrete life-benefiting achievements for vast numbers of Americans, not in ideological hot air.

That’s why the President is the guaranteed winner no matter which way the Supreme Court rules this week. That’s why so many Republicans, and especially their monied masters, hate majorities. If Obama’s going to lose in November, it will have to be to something other than popular support.