TOS Blog: Daily Commentary from an Objectivist Perspective

Hold Paul Ryan to His Word

At a recent speech in Lakewood, Colorado, Paul Ryan said the following:

We believe in the promise of this country. We believe in the idea of this country. And we know that this country—which is the greatest country on the face of this earth, by the way—it’s exceptional for a reason. It’s the only country created on an idea. That idea is really clear. . . . The Declaration of Independence is really clear. Our rights, they come from nature and God, not from government. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And guess what: Government doesn’t regulate happiness, government doesn’t define your happiness, you define it for yourself. That’s how we do it in America.

Although Ryan does not articulate an objective view of rights, to hear any politician on the national scene seriously and respectfully discuss individual rights, especially the right to pursue happiness as one defines it, is welcome indeed.

Ryan does not consistently uphold the principle of rights. It is up to us to encourage him to do so. When Ryan advocates welfare spending, bailouts, abortion bans, immigration restrictions, or drug prohibitions, we can point out that those policies violate individual rights, including your right to define happiness “for yourself.”

Ryan is talking about rights. Integrity requires that he walk his talk. Let’s hold him to his word.

Like this post? Join our mailing list to receive our weekly digest. And for in-depth commentary from an Objectivist perspective, subscribe to our quarterly journal, The Objective Standard.


Image: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Individual Rights and Law, Politicians and Candidates

Comments are welcome so long as they are civil.
  • Kathleen Anderberg

    “Government doesn’t regulate happiness, government doesn’t define your
    happiness, you define it for yourself. That’s how we do it in America.” If Ryan truly believes this, then he will not try to inject his religious beliefs (including abortion and contraception) on Americans. The constitution gave us separation of church and state and provided us the ability to worship as we choose, or not at all. This does not belong in government decision-making.

  • Robert Jones

    I love watching you guys running down Paul Ryan. This is what happens when you don’t toe the objectivist line. “Objective standard,” indeed!

  • Keith Sketchley

    That’s a meaningless comment, Robert Jones. (Appears to be based on some background of yours, but if you cannot communicate to others you lose.)

  • Frank Farber

    One may agree The Declaration Of Independence is more than an idea. Ideas are important. A number “sounding” to “dwell” “on” the material may “look” to leave out ideas out of their vocabulary.

  • Frank Farber

    “Government” may be there to protect one’s happiness. It may be what one attains without government. One may be happy to attain it without
    “government” or a separate’s help. One may be happy to attain it alone. One may be happy knowing one attains it alone.

  • Frank Farber

    The definition of happiness is in more than one dictionary and more places.

  • Anonymous

    Ryan’s doctrine of natural or god-given “rights” might allow him to wiggle out of being held to his word on rights, since he’s not upholding rights in the objective sense. Perhaps only Objectivists will know he’s not keeping his word in this sense. If he’s to be held to his word, we must do it explicitly in terms of objective rights at the expense of natural, god-given or government given “rights”. He, and the public, must understand that. We must publicly explain the difference. We must re-secure RIGHTS. not swindle or bamboozle “rights”, meaning PRIVILEGES, from “authorities”. By the way, I should change the “mkkevitt”, above. My name is Mike Kevitt.