A police officer stops a car with a known criminal at the wheel. The officer obtains consent to search that vehicle and finds nothing. Knowing that the driver is a convicted felon and has been selling drugs in one of the local neighborhoods the officer takes matters into his own hands. The officer knows the community will be a better place if the driver is off the street so he plants a small amount of drugs in the car that he subsequently, and very dramatically, finds. The driver, given his past record, is likely to be convicted and sent back to prison.
The officer has removed a dangerous criminal from the streets and thereby kept his oath to protect the community. Everybody wins right? The guy was selling drugs anyway he had just been able to evade arrest.
The above anecdote captures the essence of noble cause corruption. The ends justify the means; you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs and so forth. The idea that as long as the purpose is noble the rules do not matter is a concept that has permeated society at every level. It is an insidious prospect and has begun to erode the very fabric of our society.
Enter Health Care
Most would agree that the officer in the example should be the one in jail not the driver. Why then do we turn a blind eye to the same type of corruption in Washington?
Far from being above the fray our elected representatives are leading by corrupt example. The push to pass health care at all costs highlights noble cause corruption with a brilliance that few other examples could muster. The ends justify the means. This is for the good of the people they just don't realize it yet.
The problem is that our leaders laud the outcome over the sanctity of the process. They fail to understand that the process is everything. The American public would allow for a bill that was openly discussed and lawfully passed even if they disagreed with some of the components that comprised it. The process was valid so therefore the outcome is valid. But no good fruit can come from a poisonous tree; if the process is corrupt the fruit it produces is forever tainted.
The bible puts it succinctly in Mark 8-36 "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Our leaders have sold their political soul to gain health care. The backlash will be truly awesome.
The founding fathers built the constitution on the premise that government was a necessary evil. They understood that men are corruptible. For this reason they fashioned the chains that bind government with great care. They included checks and balances designed to keep government in check and the power with the people.
The founders made the legislative process difficult intentionally. Ii was their intent that laws be passed sparingly and only with a consensus. What is popularly called partisanship is just one of the many checks that insulate the populace against a tyrannical government. Many laws die without ever reaching the floor and with good reason. Some valuable legislation may be lost to partisan bickering but far more often it is the other way around.
What our leaders are doing now is nothing less than short circuiting the legislative process. It’s not new, to be sure, but is has reached a fever pitch. Our current dilemma illustrates what happens when well-intentioned changes are made to our system of government.
The reconciliation process was instituted in 1974. It was intended to make small changes to bills in order to bring them into line with budgetary constraints. The intent was noble but the unintended consequence was the subsequent perversions of the process that allowed for ever increasing changes to be made. Once the door was open opportunists kept pushing it wider and wider. Both sides of the aisle are equally to blame.
We are at another place in time where noble intent is forcing a perversion of the process. The "deem and pass" now being considered in the House of Representatives is another short circuiting of the process. The constitution requires a vote on each and every bill being considered by both houses of Congress. What is happening is the House will effectively avoid voting on a bill that will subsequently be signed into law.
The unintended consequences
If the House is successful in their bid to push through such sweeping legislation without an official vote they need to be prepared for what will likely follow. The bell cannot be un-rung and this process will be used again and again. For now that may suite the Democratic Party because they are in power. That will not always be the case. What they have created by precedent will likely come back to haunt them, and the American people, when the balance of power shifts.
The perversion of the rules, checks and balances, established by the founders is a double edged sword. It will serve the party in power and then inflict upon them a mortal wound when the political winds change. Both parties should be cautious when tinkering with things they do not understand. They clearly do not understand what great gift was bestowed upon us with the ratification of our constitution. If it were otherwise they would not venture to change it with such insouciance.