A big issue for Mitt* Romney as he’s campaigned for the GOP nomination has been healthcare. As Governor of Massachusetts, he reformed health insurance in the state and helped a lot of people. He worked together with other political leaders to create a plan that worked for Massachusetts, and openly admits there were compromises made and there were things he would have done differently.
Sounds pretty reasonable, right?
Well, President Obama used Romney’s healthcare reform as a jumping off point for his own healthcare bill, but since politics is no longer a discussion of ideas or a debate on how to improve the country—but is instead a perpetual high-school-esque drama of we can do no wrong and they can do no right—Romney has had to justify why he helped people in his state not die.
His answer has been consistent: it was a state solution for a state issue, never intended to be expanded across the nation. He’s said a state should be able to do what’s best for its own people, and not have to deal with the Federal government telling them what they can and can’t do.
Whether or not you agree with that ideology, it has a reasonable foundation. The Constitution of the United States doesn’t mention anything about health insurance or healthcare or mandates, so by default** it becomes a state issue. On top of that, many people believe that most issues are simply better handled at the local level.
This state-level ideology displayed itself recently, and Mittens stuck to his guns. Last week, Romney was on Huckabee discussing the topic of abortion. He said this:
My view is that the Supreme Court should reverse Roe v. Wade and send to the state the responsibility of deciding whether they’re going to have abortion legal in their state or not.
Again, while you may not agree with that point, at least he’s consistent. He wants to get rid of the Federal restrictions and leave it up to the states.
But in that very same interview he discussed other Federal restrictions he would put in place, as well as his support for a state government’s role in defining when life begins.
To the first point:
I would encourage [federal] legislation which provided to individuals the information they needed to make a choice, an informed choice about whether or not to have an abortion.
Examples of current state legislation which help individuals make informed decisions: mandated counseling, waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds showing the fetus to the mother, specific language such as telling the woman that abortion ends “the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” There’s no reason to believe Federal legislation wouldn’t mirror some of this.
To the second point:
HUCKABEE: Would you have supported a [state] constitutional amendment that would have established definition of life beginning of life at conception?
After a ballsy comment like that, Romney probably feels like he should get an image of Reagan tattooed on his nutsack; but that would be rash. What Romney is really saying is: as President, I would “encourage legislation which provided to individuals the information they needed to make a choice” but as Governor I wish I could have “told all those pro-choicers to fuck off.”
You see, just because you’re a state it doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. You can’t use “States’ Rights” as a blank check to push your own personal agenda, and you certainly can’t use it to define words and ideas that religion, philosophy, and science have been debating for centuries like you’re Merriam Fucking Webster.
Why not? Because of the 14th amendment, which says:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Remember how states used to legalize slavery and told the Federal government to get lost since it was a states’ rights issue and then the two sides fought a horrible, bloody war? Well, the 14th is one of the amendments that came right after the Civil War as a way of telling the states they could no longer fuck people over and claim states’ rights as a defense.
You see, states still do (and should) have some leeway in how they manage their own affairs; but sometimes the Federal government has to step in a keep a state or two from overstepping their bounds.
And Mr. Romney, if your approach as President is going to be to let states do pretty much whatever they want—pushing us 150 years into the past—I may have to vote for someone else.†
*Short for “Mittens”; he was named after the family cat
**See the 9th and 10th amendments. And yes, this is a real, helpful, non-sarcastic footnote; deal with it.
†Just kidding. HE’S MORMON! Who else would I vote for?