Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Collectivism of John McCain

Matt Welch reminds us why John McCain is one of the most frightening politicians in America (if not the most frightening).

Mr. McCain’s stump speeches, as well as his five books, are chockablock with calls to elevate national greatness, collective duty and Washington rejuvenation over whatever individual roads we might be pursuing. In “Worth the Fighting For,” he wrote that “our greatness depends upon our patriotism, and our patriotism is hardly encouraged when we cannot take pride in the highest public institutions.” These institutions, Mr. McCain wrote, should “fortify the public’s allegiance to the national community.”

John McCain repudiates the ideas of our Founding Fathers. He throws out the individualism of the Declaration of Independence and admires collectivism and "national greatness" instead.

The presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party has seduced the press and the public with frank confessions of his failings, from his hard-living flyboy days to his adulterous first marriage to the Keating Five scandal. But in both legislation and rhetoric, Mr. McCain has consistently sought to restrict the very freedoms he once exercised, in the common national enterprise of “serving a cause greater than self-interest.”

Such sentiment can sound stirring coming from a lone citizen freely choosing public service. But from a potential president, Mr. McCain’s exaltation of sacrifice over the private pursuit of happiness — “I did it out of patriotism, not for profit,” he snarled to Mitt Romney during the final Republican presidential debate — reflects a worryingly militaristic view of citizenship.

“We are fast becoming a nation of alienating individualists, unwilling to put the unifying values of patriotism ahead of our narrow self-interests,” Mr. McCain warned in a speech during his 2000 presidential campaign. He added that “cynicism threatens to become a ceiling on our greatness.”

When you throw out individual rights as a standard, then you can use collectivism and "national greatness" to justify any intrusion of the state into our rights. He made the template in his assault on the First Amendment:

When people raised First Amendment objections to the law, which prohibits citizen advertisements that so much as mention a federal candidate’s name within 60 days of an election, Mr. McCain responded, “I would rather have a clean government than one where quote ‘First Amendment rights’ are being respected that has become corrupt.” When the Supreme Court questioned the law’s constitutionality, he complained in a legal brief that ads were targeting “candidates in close contests — and almost invariably in a partisan manner.”

With this reasoning McCain could find justification for any expansion of the state; the only limits to his power lust will lie in two things I can think of. First, what Americans will still resist from a fading culture of individualism that is the last glow of our Enlightenment heritage. But as public education dumbs down America, and the welfare state saps our self-reliance, our tattered, disintegrating traditions and sense of life can't be much of a defense against a committed statist like McCain.

The second factor is the way our federal government works. With the balance of powers, it seems to have been designed to resist revolutionary change. Big changes come slow in America. For a century the liberals have, except for moments such as FDR's first 100 days, had to resort to gradualism in erecting the welfare state. This can be frustrating for those of us who want to roll back the welfare state yesterday, but it also provides the sturdiest bulwark against tyranny coming tomorrow.

But how fast might statists destroy freedom in a great crisis? Federalism should buy us some time, but maybe not.

As the Democrat candidates destroy themselves with their multiculti/politics of identity squabbling, leftist ideology and hopeless inadequacies, it looks more likely that McCain will be the next President of the United States of America. The blood chills.


EdMcGon said...

I get that you don't like McCain, and I agree with you until I look at Hillary or Obama's websites and see what they support. It's not going to be a pretty election.

RyanTheEgoist said...

Then are you saying, Ed McGon, that you somehow support McCain because of the disgusting positions the Democrat candidates take? Can you point out one thing McCain says that is better?

Mike N said...

"National greatness" sounds Hitlerian to me. To me, it's extremly important that McCain not get elected. He is a firm believer in sacrifice and would have no problem forcing others to make whatever sacrifices he deems in the "public interest".

EdMcGon said...

I am by no means calling McCain a savior, or even average. But calling out McCain for his flaws is like calling out your next door neighbor for not mowing his lawn, when the house two doors down is overrun with rats.

In other words, would you prefer the express elevator to socialist hell that Hillary and Obama represent, or would you rather take the stairs which McCain represents?

Gideon said...

I simply don't buy this kind of argument anymore. That's the kind of reasoning I used to convince myself to vote for Bush during the last election. I honestly believe that a Democrat could not have done worse. Yes, Democrats talk rather compromised socialist talk to their base and yes if they will get elected they will do much damage but so will McCain and McCain will do it in the name of Conservatism and free markets. At least with the Democrats there's at least the chance of an opposition. Right now, when we try to say we support a strong policy of self-defense or laissez faire capitalism, we immediately have to give a long speech distinguishing these from what the Republicans have been doing for the last 8 years and even then many don't believe us.


RyanTheEgoist said...

A good response, Gideon. It's important to realize that the smidgen better McCain is on the economy than the Dems isn't too substantial. He's only going to give true supporters of Capitalism and self defense a bad name. The Dems will have another chance to say " Look, this is where free markets get us " thus making the Socialist fervor even more voracious. This is the first election I'm eligible to vote in and I don't think I'm going to. I used to want to gridlock the system by voting in the Republican candidate with a Democrat congress but McCain is the great compromiser. Much like Bush I'm sure he'll pass through just about every bill.

Myrhaf said...

If you decide to abstain, Ryan the Egoist, be sure to take the time to vote, just don't vote for President. Then your non-vote shows up in the statistics. If you stay home without voting at all, then you are dismissed as apathetic and uninvolved.

Abstention is perfectly honorable -- and it's looking like an excellent choice this year.

Dismuke said...

If McCain is elected, his statist policies will be passed on grounds of "Well, it could be worse, we could have had Obama/Hillary. Thus since statism is inevitable, we should stop bitching and be thankful that we are getting a watered down version."

If Clinton is elected - well, there are a lot of people in both parties who HATE her and will oppose her policies. If Obama is elected - well, his credibility with the electorate is also on the wane and will eventually be shot once it is put to the test in office and I think there will be strong opposition to him as well.

Don't forget that HillaryHealthCare was defeated in spite of a Democratic President and Democratic Congress - and it led to the Republican takeover, an opportunity to do something substantial in terms of cutting back the welfare state that the Republicans quickly blew.

Anonymous said...

Backlink for the 'Haf.