Ilana Mercer, September 12, 2008

Sarah Palin’s intoxicating performance at the Republican National Convention did wonders to mask John McCain’s toxic presence—and, in particular, the collectivist, fascistic philosophy that permeated his address. When it comes to sacrifice for the state, McCain gives Obama a run for his money.

Recall, Barack’s bride had already cautioned that her husband would not let Americans be complacent. Under an Obama administration, the right to opt out and be left alone—an essential ingredient of American individualism—would be frowned upon. Obama himself has called for “shared sacrifice.” “At $3.5 billion a year,” reported the Washington Post, Obama’s “service plan would “grow the AmeriCorps program… expand the Foreign Service and create an Energy Corps to conduct renewable energy and environmental cleanup projects.”

Pilfering from the people so as to establish brigades that’ll corral them into this or the other service is immoral and unconstitutional. It’s also unnecessary. As a percentage of their aggregate income, Americans give more to charity than citizens of any other country. Their time Americans donate with equal generosity. The extent, the depth, and the consistency of America’s private giving negate the need for Obama’s political pelf.

But for focusing enraptured Republicans on the glory rather than the gory details of serving the state, McCain is unparalleled.

After his imprisonment by one state, McCain told of falling in love with another, albeit a more benevolent one: “I wasn’t my own man anymore, I was my country’s,” he intoned at the convention. “Nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself. Each and every one of us has a duty to serve a cause greater than our own self-interest,” McCain has persistently preached.

McCain’s national greatness “conservatism” sees the individual as a cog in the service of the collective. Contra McMussolini, the American Founders placed the individual before the collective, giving pride of place to individual liberties before duties. James Madison and the other founders attempted to forestall raw democracy by devising a republic, the hallmark of which was the preservation of individual liberty. The Bill of Rights places primacy on the rights of the individual.

Obama’s collectivism is, at the very least, of a piece with his progressivism, which dictates that the common good, as defined by the state, take precedent over the common man. Again, this was not the intention of the American founders. Both his and McCain’s emphasis on roping the individual into serving the “common good,” as defined by their imperial selves, is French, not American. Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “general will” and “national purpose,” to be implemented by an all-powerful state, inspired the blood-drenched French and Russian revolutions. Voltaire, a rather cleverer Frenchman, said that Rousseau is to the philosopher as the ape is to man. Unfortunately, that ape’s ideas animate John McCain, down to the man’s marrow.

Confusing McCain’s progressivism with patriotism is a big mistake warns John Samples of the Cato Institute. McCain “puts the nation before the individual and duties before [individual] rights.” The latter he seldom mentions, except to lend luster to the cause of furthering world-wide democracy. The individual’s inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in McCain’s universe are little more than manifestations of a “me only” self-interest, which McCain routinely maligns.

“Self interest,” of course, is also an American ethos. The Founders admired Scottish philosopher Adam Smith. In The Wealth of Nations, Smith advised that “by pursuing his own interest, [man] frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good,” averred Smith.

At the convention, McCain touted his fight “to get million-dollar checks out of our elections.” Far and away the most egregious example of McCain’s progressivism is his centerpiece legislation: the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. Writes Samples

“The First Amendment to the Constitution is not Progressive. It gives greater weight to the right of the individual to speak, to write, and to associate than to any collective purpose the government might have in suppressing speech. That right includes inevitably a right to spend money to speak, to write, and to associate. Without the right to spend, the other rights would have no concrete meaning.”

Enthrall to what he perceives to be the greater good, McCain has done a good deal to garrote the First Amendment.

Asks Samples: “The election of a Progressive like … Obama would deprive conservatives of power. The election of a Progressive like McCain would deprive conservatives of both the government and the means to resist Progressivism. Which is the lesser evil?”

©2008 By Ilana Mercer
   September 12

CATEGORIES: Conservatism, Constitution, Democracy, Elections 2008, Founding Fathers, Individual rights, Individualism Vs. Collectivism, John McCain