Thursday, September 4, 2008

Are McCain and Obama preaching self-sacrifice?

Before I proceed I encourage visitors to check out Robert Bidinotto's posts on Sarah Palin at I posted something there that I'd like to put here as well.

I know we cringe when we hear Republicans like Giuliani and McCain make negative comments about self-interest. But I think we make the mistake of assuming that they have the same concept in mind as we do. We need to ask whether McCain and the others have ever read Rand and, if they have, do they really understand what she is saying? (The same question can be asked about some of her admirers.) I am just starting to read McCain’s Worth Fighting For to get a better feel. In the opening pages he makes a brief reference to individualism versus egotism without explaining the distinction he is making. Furthermore, if McCain and his colleagues were completely dead set again self-interest why do they appeal to ours? By that I mean their proposed programs and policies are aimed at our needs.

We ultimately will have a choice between McCain who believes we should serve our country in order to protect and improve it versus Obama who wants us to sacrifice ourselves to everyone else, both foreign and domestic. On the surface it appears there is no fundamental difference between the two. McCain asks us to serve our country while Obama wants us to serve others in general. I think buried in this is a key distinction. McCain is not denying that we have a right to be happy or to pursue happiness. (At least I haven’t found any quotes to that affect.) I think he believes we need to put the interests of the U.S. first because protecting this framework will ensure our freedom and our ability to pursue our values. I’ll admit that maybe this is wishful thinking and might be too generous but I think his voting record supports what I’m saying.

On the other hand I’m confident that deep down Obama does indeed want to change us … into another more consistent welfare-state with a heavily government regulated market that is more in line with the “enlightened” European-model where we can’t drive our SUVs, have to turn down our thermostats and can’t eat as much. (This is paraphrasing a quote from him.) Kind of intrusive, isn’t it? I think he is ultimately uncomfortable with and ashamed of the self-interest that drives us. It doesn’t take much digging to find the collectivist intellectual influences in Obama’s life that would explain his antipathy to self-interest.