This article is directed at other liberals, not conservatives. I have noticed a strain of frustration and impatience for President Obama among many liberals. He isn’t doing enough, or he isn’t doing it fast enough, or he is doing things that some liberals actively oppose. I have had my own complicated history with my support for the President, but after changing my mind about him close to a dozen times, I think I’ve finally settled on a predominantly positive view of the 44th President of the United States.
There are a lot of unconvincing arguments for why liberals should vote for President Obama, or Democrats in general. One probably accurate (but utlimately unsatisfying) argument is that Mitt Romney would be much worse, and that there is simply too much at stake to sit this one out. I happen to believe that is 100% accurate, but it also isn’t an argument that I find especially swaying when I have big problems with a Democratic candidate. Another is that President Obama has accomplished quite a bit in his administration and has proved himself to be a great President. Again, I believe this is accurate, but I doubt it would be swaying for anyone still asking why they should vote to reelect the President, because they obviously feel otherwise.
So, after the failure of these and other arguments, I submit to you the following: yesterday’s narrow 5-4 ruling in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as “Obamacare.” This narrow decision was made possible only because Chief Justice John Roberts, a President Bush appointee, broke ranks and ruled in favor of the act. It was absolutely stunning.
And it’s unlikely to happen again.
Don’t get me wrong, if Chief Justice Roberts is faced with a similar situation, he might act similarly. But it might not be like this next time. Because the Supreme Court isn’t just there to decide on how the scope of the government’s power, it’s there to safeguard the civil rights of its citizens as it did in cases like Brown vs. Board of Education, or Miranda vs. Arizona.
Do not for a moment believe that we don’t need that protection. All kinds of basic freedoms are still open to debate in this country. Do you believe in affirmative action? John Roberts doesn’t. How about the Voting Rights Act, which protects minorities from discrimination in the most basic exercise of democracy? John Roberts doesn’t.
How do you think a conservative-dominated court will rule on the right to privacy? On the right not to be tortured? On gay rights?
Very few things a President does last much longer than their four or eight years in office. In political terms, Supreme Court nominations last longer than anything else they do. President Obama’s judicial nominees have been of impeccable character and sound legal judgment. And he has made good on his promise to nominate women and minorities, who have historically been underrepresented in this branch of government.
So if you’re liberal, and you care about civil liberties, please vote for President Obama for reelection in 2012. And continue voting Democrat until the Supreme Court has a clear majority of young, liberal justices. We need you on this one.
P.S. Please stop being mean to conservatives about the Supreme Court’s decision. If they want to be negative, let them. We don’t have to. We won.