Reason Magazine’s Steve Chapman reviews the recently concluded Democratic and Republican Conventions and notes that there was one thing missing from both; liberty:
So what was missing? Only what used to be held up as the central ideal of the party. The heirs of Goldwater couldn’t spare a day for freedom.
Neither could the Democrats. Their daily topics this year were “One Nation,” “Renewing America’s Promise,” and “Securing America’s Future.” The party proclaimed “an agenda that emphasizes the security of our nation, strong economic growth, affordable health care for all Americans, retirement security, honest government, and civil rights.” Expanding and upholding individual liberty? Not so much.
Forty-four years after Goldwater’s declaration, it’s clear that collectivism, not individualism, is the reigning creed of Republicans as well as Democrats. Individuals are not valuable and precious in their own right but as a means for those in power to achieve their grand ambitions.
You will scour the presidential nominees’ acceptance speeches in vain for any hint that your life is rightfully your own, to be lived in accordance with your beliefs and desires and no one else’s. The Founding Fathers set out to protect “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” but Barack Obama has a different idea.
The “essence of America’s promise,” he declared in Denver, is “individual responsibility and mutual responsibility”—rather than, say, individual freedom and mutual respect for rights. The “promise of America,” he said, is “the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper.”
What do Republicans believe in? McCain told us Thursday: “We believe in a strong defense, work, faith, service, a culture of life, personal responsibility, the rule of law…. We believe in the values of families, neighborhoods and communities.”
Would it be too much to mention that what sustains the American vision of those things is freedom? That without it, personal responsibility becomes hollow and service is servitude?
Apparently, for both parties it would. John McCain’s campaign slogan during the convention was “Country First,” not “Freedom First”, heck not even “Family First.” The unstated assumption one draws from such a slogan is that loyalty to country, and the willingness to sacrifice oneself to the same must come before everything else, including, when necessary, your own freedom.
The Democrats aren’t any better, of course; it was Barack Obama who said in his acceptance speech:
In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is — you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps — even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own.
Because, in Barack Obama’s world and the world in which most of his supporters seem to live, the idea that people can do better on their own than they can with the help of a supposedly benevolent state is completely foreign. They reject it not because they don’t think it works, they reject it because they can’t conceive of the idea that individuals are better suited to make decisions for themselves than the educated and elite bureaucrats who supposedly know what is good for the masses.
It wouldn’t have mattered which convention he watched over the past two weeks because, in either case, Barry Goldwater was most assuredly spinning in his grave.