Moderation desperately needed in politics


Each time I finish reading a book, I add it to a list that I keep stored on my computer. I divide them all into eight categories (general fiction, general nonfiction, philosophy, humor, parody, memoirs, plays and graphic novels) in order to make sure that I’m reading a variety of books.
Part of the reason I do this is to ensure that I don’t get bogged down in a particular type of book – it’s nice to see that while I might periodically read one of Jim Norton’s books (hilarious, but not particularly enlightening), I am also reading something a little deeper every once in awhile.
I’m proud of the fact that I read works from a variety of authors because I think it allows me to look at things in a more nuanced, moderate way. I guess it’s because of this that I am proud of Chief Justice John Roberts’ move to uphold conservative principles while also upholding the majority of President Obama’s health care initiative.
While I am against the legislation itself, I have been disappointed by the ad hominem attacks on Justice Roberts and his character. There have been a number of well-written critiques of the majority opinion from a legal perspective – something that I can support wholeheartedly – but calling him a traitor, as many have done, simply because he tried to look at something in a nuanced way is simply inexcusable.
A desire for moderation in politics – particularly from the highest judge in our nation – is not a character flaw. Quite frankly, it’s something we need more of in Washington right now. There is far too little emphasis on trying to understand what the people across the aisle are actually thinking.
I’ve been disappointed by the fact that most people would agree with that statement, but the second there is someone in Washington who tries to work out a compromise, everyone attacks them. Justice Roberts is not a coward for his ruling – certainly, there is room for disagreement, but there is no reason to attack him or his motivations on a personal level.
Let us remember that if more people in Washington had acted like Justice Roberts in the first place, we would not be in this situation today. The health care legislation was passed along hyper-partisan lines. Not a single Republican voted for it and the Democrats had to resort to questionable legislative tactics to get it passed in the Senate.
I’m not criticizing either party in particular – there is no doubt in my mind that if Republicans had the ability to push their legislation through the Senate, they would have done the exact same thing – but I am criticizing the extremely divisive nature of the process. Why didn’t Democrats offer more concessions in order to try and get some Republican votes? Were all the Republicans in Congress really opposed to the legislation or did some vote against it for purely partisan reasons?
Had our legislators shown the moderation that Justice Roberts showed in his ruling, we simply wouldn’t be where we are today in the health care debate. The saddest thing about this ruling isn’t that the health care legislation still stands, it is that it shows us how little Americans are interested in real solutions to serious problems.
From the right, we have seen criticism essentially yelling, “Sure, Roberts limited the power of the Commerce Clause in a major way, but I can’t believe he would uphold Obamacare” while the left has been screaming, “Thank God we get to keep the health care legislation, but Roberts has no right to say we have to call it a ‘tax.'”
Can’t we acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, Roberts didn’t actually have it out for anyone? That maybe, just maybe, he wrote the opinion that reflected his actual judicial beliefs and not his partisan views? That maybe, just maybe, he put politics aside and actually made the ruling he thought was fairest?
If we can’t acknowledge that, then whether or not the health care legislation stands is the least of our problems.

Joshua Madden is a non-degree seeking graduate student. Please send comments to