By Benjamin Wachs
I can’t say I object to Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s speaking out against his own bill to repeal Obama-care through a filibuster that wasn’t really a filibuster. Though absurd in the absolute sense of the term, it all makes sense in context. It’s the way government works — except insofar as it represents a government not working at all.
It’s business as usual, aside from the fact that absolutely no business is getting done.
But Ted Cruz is an absolutely terrible moralist.
Morality is a very important concept, and it deserves better.
There are many things one can say for and against Obama-care, for and against the philosophy of government that propels it, for and against modern liberalism.
But comparing it to the rise of Hitler — whether you’re Ted Cruz or an ordinary citizen holding a sign at a rally — is so bizarre as to disqualify one from debate in a sane country.
Does it even need to be said? Okay, here goes: the point of Obama-care is to give 30 million more Americans access to health care. The Nazis, on the other hand, set out to kill people. Tens of millions. They shot them. They worked them to death. They gassed them. It was the biggest industrialized killing effort in the history of the world.
No one has to like Obama-care, but comparing it to the appeasement of the Nazis, or the actions of the Nazis, or anything involving the Nazis, is an obscenity that reasonable people ought to be able to agree is beyond the pale.
This isn’t just a semantic point. It’s vitally important. There is real evil in the world. If we compare health care legislation to genocide, how can we possibly condemn genocide effectively? We’ll have no words. We’ll have wasted them all, spending the outrage we’ll need to fight true evil on “what the Democrats are doing now.”
We cannot confront true evil if we see it everywhere we look.
The same issue, of the incapacity to tell the difference between small and large disasters, is found in the idea that preventing Obama-care from being funded is worth defaulting on the U.S. Government’s credit and plunging the global economy into freefall.
There is simply no damage that the Affordable Care Act can do to the economy — even in the worst case scenario — that compares to a government shutdown and a default on the U.S.’s full faith and credit.
It’s a matter of objective fact: Obama-care may or may not help the economy, but shutting down the government will objectively put far more pressure on the economy, far more people out of work.
To compare the two — to suggest there is equivalence — is delusional. A healthy body politic would treat it as such.
If we can’t tell the difference between the two, how can we ever distinguish truly good or truly bad policies? Politics is the art of the possible: No bills are ever perfect. Everything that comes out of Congress will occupy part of the large middle ground. If we want to get anything done, we have to acknowledge that this middle ground exists. Otherwise we’ll burn the country to the ground in order to prevent perfectly adequate legislation from taking effect. Which is either a kind of insanity or a complete loss of perspective.
I know everyone knows that, really. I apologize for writing a mediocre column to point out the obvious.
But it needs to be pointed out. More of us need to be saying it. People who can’t tell the difference between Obamacare and Hitler, between the problems of implementing Obamacare and shutting down the government, let alone defaulting on our debts, are not competent to participate in the public debate, let alone to lead it.
Morality depends not on the strength of one’s condemnation, but on the ability to make important distinctions. If we have lost our way as a country, it is because we have lost sight of that.
Benjamin Wachs writes for Messenger Post Media, and archives his work at Email him at