When lawmakers tried to pass a federal ban on same-sex marriage, the activist left was there to shout: “You can’t legislate morality.” When they tried to alter or overturn Roe v. Wade, the National Organization for Women started screaming: “You can’t legislate morality.” When they tried to pass a law saying 13-year-olds shouldn’t have government funded access to contraception, organizations like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU were there to remind us: “You can’t legislate morality.”
For 30 years, “you can’t legislate morality” has been the far-left battle cry whenever social issues enter the political realm and, largely, it’s correct. The advantages of a new law should be quantifiable and demonstrable. What’s “right” has always been in the eye of the beholder so, if you want to pass a law, you’d do well to have a logical reason not based in something as nebulous as ethics. If your bill is so flimsy that the only justification you can give for its passage is “because it’s morally correct,” the odds are that you’ve failed to provide evidence of any other benefit.
None of this, of course, applies to Barack Obama. Due to a previously unseen level of hypocrisy, the left has given our 44th commander in chief a morality pass. Whenever his plans are exposed as the destructive schemes that they are, he uses it to remind us of “the right thing to do.”
By the fall of 2009, the president had lost his Obamacare mojo. Democrats had failed to convince the nation that the proposed reforms would provide any sort of financial benefit, they’d had no luck with their claims that the quality of care would improve, and the American people were overwhelmingly opposed to the measure. Since the Dems had lost the battle of the facts, they began to argue the morality.
It’s “the right thing to do” Obama said. It was a mantra he’d repeat, ad nauseum, all the way through March 2010. He cited a “moral imperative” as an overriding reason for reform. The left, of course, was silent. Legislating morality, it seems, is all fine and dandy, as long as it’s their morality. The voters weren’t buying it, so the president began invoking the Almighty.
Obama claimed that those who would challenge his plans were “bearing false witness.” Dare to point out discrepancies between his assertions and the actual bill, and you were branded a liar. “These are all fabrications that have been put out there to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation,” the president said. “And that is that we look out for one another—that I am my brother’s keeper…” Through flowery, biblical language, Obama was letting us know: God, the ultimate legislator of morality, wanted Obamacare. Who were the American people to argue?
Once he’d gone to the morality well for health care reform, the gloves were off. The president began framing just about every issue in terms of right and wrong—often without any sort of logical reasoning to corroborate the claim.
Obama’s laughably titled “Environment Fact Sheet” claims clobal warming is real, and that dealing with it is a “moral imperative.” Cap-and-trade, his comprehensive environmental reform plan, has been exposed as little more than a massive energy tax created to treat a problem that may not exist. It’s spectacularly unpopular, and has been circling the drain for almost a year now. Still, Obama has maintained “It’s the right thing to do.” Now the plan is rearing its head again, and the Democrats are increasingly framing America’s environmental stance as a moral issue.
During the 2010 State of the Union address, Obama announced that “Don’t ask don’t tell” should be repealed, since “It’s the right thing to do.” Democrats hailed the decree despite the fact that he’s given no reason why it’s the right thing to do. Has there been some change in the old notions of unit cohesion? If there has, fantastic. Repeal it. However, there’s been no evidence offered to suggest that’s the case—only the moral argument has been presented.
On the immigration front, Democrats fight rabidly for amnesty. Their claim – that we wrongly deny the benefits of American life to illegal immigrants – is political Swiss cheese. Since they haven’t figured out a way to argue that someone who has committed a crime by illegally entering the country should be rewarded with citizenship, they resort to morality. These noble laborers do the jobs Americans won’t and we reward them with deportation? How dare we? After all, we’re all immigrants, living in a nation built on immigration. Never mind that there is a legal way to come here—the moral equivalence between legal immigrants of the past and illegal immigrants of the present is set in liberal stone. Offering them a “path to citizenship” is, of course, “the right thing to do.”
The left should be aware that Barack Obama is setting a dangerous precedent. They won’t always be in power. November is coming quickly. After years of tying their legal maneuvers to ethical obligations and moral imperatives, the tables will eventually turn. The day will come when we’ll have a Congress full of Republicans and a conservative president. Democrats will have only themselves to blame for establishing the notion that “legislating morality” is no longer something to be ashamed of.
Their inevitable arguments to the contrary will, through their own actions, have been rendered worthless.
Robert Laurie writes a daily political commentary blog, The Robalution. Robert holds a degree in English from Wayne State University, and has worked in advertising as a graphic designer and copy writer.