June 25, 2015
What’s the Point?

I have been so naïve.

This morning, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that though the text of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (casually known as Obamacare) very clearly says one thing, it actually means another thing. It means the opposite thing, in fact. It means the opposite thing because that’s now what the Government wants it to mean, never mind that the chief architect of Obamacare ran around the country for years telling state governments that the law means exactly what it appears to mean.

The Court ruled that where the law reads, “established by the State”, it somehow also means “not established by the State”.

(If you need a quick explanation of what this means and why it’s important, read the first few paragraphs of this article at Reason.)

How? What could possibly be the reasoning for such stunning absurdity?

Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is con- sistent with the former, and avoids the latter. Section 36B can fairly be read consistent with what we see as Congress’s plan, and that is the reading we adopt.

Majority Opinion in King v. Burwell

In short, words no longer have meaning because whatever lawmakers intended is what matters, even if they were too rushed or ignorant to make sure they used the right words to say so. To put another way, the Supreme Court declared itself an umpire who says “Well, he was obviously trying to throw a strike, so it’s a strike.” If the rules you thought mattered actually don’t, the game was never what you thought it was in the first place.

And with this, something like scales fell from my eyes.

It’s not just this ruling. It’s the whole system. I saw the futility of my own frustrated attempts to understand, analyze, and comment on our political system, the most impressive of mirages. None of it is real. It doesn’t matter what our laws actually say. They have no constraining power. It doesn’t matter that we have three branches of government, each designed to provide a check against the others. They don’t.

These despots will do exactly as they please, and our system of government will find some way to make it legitimate. Nothing will stand in their way because nothing is standing in their way. The political and economic elite are all in this together, and any appearance of conflict in Washington is just theater. Our entire political system only serves to give the people the illusion they’re in control. But guess what? Your vote doesn’t matter. Stand defiantly against this monster all I want, I’m a nobody with no influence and nothing I do will change a thing.

So I’m done.

I won’t waste my life with this fruitlessness anymore. I won’t let the stress of Rome burning paralyze me and poison my relationships with loved ones. This goes further than merely declaring an end to political activism, a nasty sport I swore off years ago. This is a hope to live by Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

I can’t think of a passage of text that more beautifully describes the very antithesis of engaging in political gossip.

So I will instead focus on my actual world, the world around me. The one filled with neighbors and loved ones with whom I interact on a daily basis. The one where my desires and decisions have a real effect. Where little things that I do can make a big difference.

I’m not saying I won’t slip. Most drug addicts don’t kick it the first time. So this post is addressed to my future self more than anyone else.

If you’re a friend of mine, hold me to this. When you see me going on another political tear or wasting time catching up on the latest political gossip, just say, “Hey Kev, remember that blog post you wrote?” That’ll be all you’ll need to do. I’ll know.

Here’s to dwelling on the best of things.

An addendum.