By now you’ve probably seen the TV specials and glossy magazines reviewing major highlights of the past year. There are still a few days left before we close the books on 2012 (and action appears likely on the fiscal cliff). But in the meantime, let’s recap some of the good news (and bad) that conservatives faced over the past 12 months.
Campaign of Condescension
The election results disappointed many conservatives. Even more disappointing than the outcome was the accompanying campaign of condescension.
Americans weren’t treated as self-governing citizens. Women were portrayed as birth control pill-popping dependants looking for the next handout. The President insisted that our achievements have nothing to do with our own initiative, talents, or hard work. “You didn’t build that,” government programs did. The Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte reminded us that government is the one thing we all belong to.
Obamacare Remains Intact (If Unworkable)
Conservatives were understandably giddy when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case against the unpopular, unworkable, unconstitutional health-care law. Obamacare is an unprecedented expansion of the federal government’s power. It requires citizens to purchase a product (which the government will define) or face a penalty. Surely the court would overturn this monstrosity.
Wrong. The Supreme Court held the individual mandate to be constitutional under Congress’s taxing power (never mind that Congress never called the mandate a tax or that this “tax” sits uneasily within the history of text of the Constitution). The court recognized some limits on Congress’s commerce power and chastised the federal government’s attempt to strong-arm the states with Medicaid, but these were small victories compared to the disappointment of the court’s not striking down Obamacare in its entirety.
Reign of an Imperial Presidency
Imperialism was back in a big way in 2012. President Obama acted unconstitutionally in January by giving “recess appointments” to four officials who were subject to Senate confirmation even though the Senate wasn’t in recess. By so doing, the President denied the Senate (and therefore the American people) its constitutional duty to offer advice and consent in confirmation.
Obama spent the rest of the year routinely ignoring or bypassing Congress. If he did not like the laws, he refused to enforce them or used the regulatory process to make up new laws. For example, because he objected to federal immigration laws, Obama decided to apply those laws selectively, and actively prevented states, including Arizona, from enforcing those laws themselves.
Let’s also not forget that the Department of Justice not only refused to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, but it also wouldn’t deign to defend it from legal challenge. And even though the Senate rejected the President’s cap-and-trade plan, his Environmental Protection Agency classified carbon dioxide as a pollutant so that it could regulate it under the Clean Air Act.
That’s enough bad news for one year. Now let’s get to the high points: