Paul Jacob

It’s often difficult to know where ideology ends and realpolitik begins.

Politicians claim to be pure partisans of principle alone — “statesmen,” to use the old-fashioned term. But observe their behavior and quickly their personal and professional interests shake out of their sleeves.

With the medical industry reform bill now almost universally known by Democrats as, simply, “the health care law” (as if there weren’t a thousand other such laws also dictating on aspects of health care) and by everyone else as, more simply yet, “Obamacare,” the game-playing and ideological posturing have become even more convoluted than usual.

But I’m prepared to take former House Speaker and current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi almost at her word. Before the bill was passed, she notoriously said we had to “wait to see what’s in” the law. Now that the law has started kicking into effect, stage by stage, she says that she is quite happy with the reforms. Indeed, “all” Democrats are!

We saw an opportunity to stand with those who created Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the ’60s, and now our generational opportunity to have health care as a right — not a privilege. And that is what we came here to do. . . .

Her “right not a privilege” meme tips her left hand. Folks who see society in terms of institutional authority look at good things we get either as coerced, by legal right, or granted by “special privilege.” Those of us who see society as importantly made up largely of voluntary arrangements don’t look at the bulk of what we get as the result of “privilege” but, instead, as legitimate gains from honest trade. In my view, anyway, my health care is my responsibility, not your obligation. When you demand something as your right, it entails obligations on others.

So that’s Pelosi’s ideological play.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.