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In praise of 'no'

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France is into its fifth republic. The Netherlands just dissolved its government over Afghan War tensions. Let’s keep this in mind whenever we hear how our system is broken, or “frozen” as this week’s Time cover story puts it. The two party system isn’t ideal, but it’s stable, and something should be said for ensuring the trains run on time. Funny, we didn’t hear many laments about a broken beltway class from the press in 2005, when Bush was looking to overhaul Social Security. The filibuster was then viewed as a necessary check on the tyranny of the majority. Today, it’s viewed as holding hostage important social progress in the best interest of the people. Democrats almost relished the party of “no” slight they were given in 2005, when they truly had no alternative plan for fixing Social Security. Their strategy was to convince us it wasn’t broken. We all now agree our health care system, while not broken, still needs a’ fixin’ and Republicans have plenty of ideas based solidly in the free market, which is always a more efficient allocator of scarce resources that the federal government.

I’m reminded of all this as I watch the health care summit. Far from the hand-holding, Kumbaya-singing some were hoping for, it’s little more than schmaltzy political theater, one that thankfully closes soon after its debut. Boehner and McConnell want the whole thing scrapped, Pelosi said it’s too late to scrap and they’ll pass health care reform even if (or especially because) the American people don’t know what’s good for them. Frustrating? Yes. But that frustration is the price of our freedom.