Jonah Goldberg

"It's the law of the land."

This is rapidly becoming the preferred shorthand argument for why criticism of Obamacare is just so, so wrong. It also serves as the lead sentence of a larger claim that all attempts to overturn the Affordable Care Act are really symptoms of a kind of extremist right-wing lunacy.

For instance, here's Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who walked out of the painting "American Gothic" to deliver this homespun wisdom: "We're not going to bow to Tea Party anarchists who deny the mere fact that Obamacare is the law. We will not bow to Tea Party anarchists who refuse to accept that the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare is constitutional."

Where to begin? For starters, I know a great many self-described members of the Tea Party, and I've yet to meet one who would not acknowledge -- admittedly with dismay -- that Obamacare is the law. Nor have I met one unwilling to concede that the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare is constitutional. Though from my informal polling, I can report that most think the court's reasoning left much to be desired (logic, persuasiveness, consistency, etc.).

Lurking beneath such lazy rhetoric is a nasty psychological insinuation that there's something deranged not just about opposing Obamacare, but about being a conservative. This is an ancient smear, used to discredit conservatives in order to avoid debating them.

Reid is a dim and sallow man whose tin ear long ago started to rust. But it's worth pointing out that "anarchy" is not defined in any textbook or dictionary I can find as "the absence of Obamacare." While, yes, it's true, most "Mad Max," zombie and other post-apocalyptic films are set in worlds without Obamacare, that's really not the most salient factor.

More to the point, petitioning Congress to repeal a bad law through formal procedures is not the kind of behavior educated people normally associate with anarchism.

Indeed, the hypocrisy of liberals who find it somehow "extreme" for citizens to organize peacefully to overturn a law they consider bad and unjust is a marvel to behold. The Fugitive Slave Act was once the law of the land. So was the Defense of Marriage Act. Were those determined to overturn them anarchists?

On an almost daily basis, I get a fundraising e-mail from a Democrat or from liberal outfits begging for help to overturn Citizens United, which in case you hadn't heard is the law of the land. Why won't these anarchists and extremists accept that the Supreme Court has ruled? I cannot wait for the Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade, just to hear liberals announce, "Well, the fight is over. The Court has spoken."


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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