Health care policy is one of those issues that should bring out the anti-democrat and anti-libertarian in normal conservatives. Democracy is clearly inadequate to the task: we have no choice but to rely upon experts, a managerial class, an "elite", and to hope they get it right. Libertarianism is unconscionable in that it denies the natural role of the state in fostering the common good.
With the passing of Obamacare traditionalist conservatives have a problem. We must oppose it for multiple grave reasons, but we cannot adopt the language of radical individualism, talk radio, or Ayn Rand without selling our souls. Last week I heard Dennis Prager practically shout at one of his callers: "I don't want a leader!" And there you have it, what has become the battle cry of the so-called American "right" - Non Serviam! - the drunken slogan of an ungovernable people. Prager went on to claim that the Old Testament did not place leaders over the Jews, nevermind the prophets, patriarchs, priests, judges, and eventually kings. Note well how libertarian ideology destroys the rational faculties of an otherwise intelligent man.
Language matters. Language changes us. We end up believing our own rhetoric. And here's the twist: our enemies end up believing it too, and they will one day use it against us.
So here are a few things I think we need to keep in mind:
1. "Coercion" is not a four-letter word. Laws are coercive. Taxes are coercive. The exercise of state power is by definition coercive.
2. Taxation is not "theft". Redistribution is not "theft". The state has legitimate power and authority to do both.
3. That Obamacare was passed along strict party lines means nothing. The problem is that it is bad legislation, not that it is partisan legislation. It has happened in the past, and will happen in the future, that good legislation is passed along strict party lines.
4. That a majority of Americans appear to oppose Obamacare also means nothing. The majority of Americans have not read the 1,700 page bill, and even if they had, most would not understand it. Good legislation should be passed even when opposed by an ephemeral "majority".
5. The state has an obligation to facilitate the common good, and that might include spending money on health care.
6. All people have a right to basic health care. That means someone has a duty to provide it. Traditionally, that has been the role of the Church and all Christians, with the supplemental help of the state. With Obamacare we are reaping the rewards of disestablishment.
Zippy has argued that, even though conservatives cannot embrace libertarianism as an ideology, it should nevertheless be the practical disposition of American conservatives given the wickedness of the present regime. I'm highly sympathetic to that line of thought. A libertarian regime would indeed be preferable to the secular totalitarianism which now threatens us. Still, I think we need to maintain a larger perspective. Christian civilization has more than one enemy, and the enemy of my enemy is not always my friend ...