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.
- Ayn Rand’s Theory of Rights: The Moral Foundation of a Free Society
- Can Paul Ryan Make the Moral Case for Capitalism?
Image: Wikimedia Commons