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December 18th, 2017

Insight

A Modest Proposal to My Left-Wing Friends

Bob Tyrrell

By Bob Tyrrell

Published Nov. 20, 2014

I have a suggestion for my left-wing Democratic friends in light of all the controversy over Obamacare. That the controversy continues all these years after the bill's passage and that today much of the bill is in danger of amputation must be very dispiriting to those left-wingers who had such high hopes for it. They obviously labored assiduously to render it incomprehensible to the electorate and for a long time they succeeded. Yet the electorate wised up this month and voted into office large numbers of Republicans. Those Republicans are out to gut the legislation.

In the future — if the Democrats even have a future — I suggest that they cease and desist from writing legislation in sophisticated, obscure, long-winded language that borders upon gibberish. It has in the past befuddled a lot of voters and driven some to drink or at least to despair. It has allowed its left-wing authors to hand over their legislative sausages to government bureaucrats who chop them up neatly into comprehensible rules for taxing, regulating and stealing the people's property. Recall if you will erstwhile Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's memorable line: "We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it." She was doubtless alluding to the bureaucrats' rewrite of Obamacare.

Today, however, I sense a backlash against this sort of legislative legerdemain. The dire condition of Obamacare is just one example. It is time for left-wingers to try a new approach to legislation. My suggestion is that they endeavor to write legislation not in bad English but in good Latin — Latin the language of classicists, of poets, of scholars, and now of Democrats! There is a lucidity to Latin. There is a conciseness to it. Moreover, not one American in a thousand understands it. Why even our growing Latino community, here legally and illegally, has no idea of what a Latin sentence means. Yet my guess is that many Americans are in awe of Latin. With American laws written in Latin the governance of the country would be completely out of the hands of the American people, much as it was prior to Nov. 5.

What is more, poor Jonathan Gruber would not be in the hot water he is today owing to his artless yawp uttered a year ago. And, by the way, why did it take a year to elapse before the mainstream media brought Gruber's statement to the public's attention. Does it really take the media's conservative minority that long to get the mainstream media to do its duty?

As all Americans by now know Gruber, an M.I.T. economist and an architect of Obama's folly, explained to a University of Pennsylvania audience that: "Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the 'stupidity of the American voter' or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing passed." Just imagine how the architects of Obamacare would have benefitted if the law were originally written in Latin? Only a handful of savants would be on hand to interpret it to us, and Gruber would not be tempted to call the vast majority of us who are unfamiliar with Latin "stupid." My guess is even he is unfamiliar with Latin.

I have long argued that the laws of the land are purposely written in gibberish so that ordinary Americans and even American legislators throw up their hands in frustration. Only a tea partier or a Washington lobbyist would bother to parse meaning from a freshly slapped-together law, the tea partier with noble intent involving our freedoms, the lobbyist with less noble intent involving venality. Now Gruber has made my case. He, an elitist Obama insider, said of Obama's key piece of social engineering that it "would not have passed" if it were written in plain English. This is also true of dozens of other pieces of legislation. It is true of environmental legislation, of IRS regulations, and of all the budgetary claptrap.

Now precisely how our left-wing friends can maneuver toward getting legislation written in a foreign language I am uncertain. Yet they have gotten the language of Spanish accepted around the country and it even appears on official documents. The left has its ways, usually quite devious, but often quite effective.

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R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator, a political and cultural monthly, which has been published since 1967. He's also the author of several books.

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