The Apollo 13 space shot ran into a serious problem – the CO2 capture system was inadequate, the astronauts were is grave danger, and hence the entire project. Without immediate intervention, the forces in play would soon end everything. The engineers on the ground in Huston, gathered in a room and pored over the assorted assets then available to the astronauts.
The conservative leaders of the nation are now in the room where all the resources available are on the table and the apparent challenge is to immediately put together a new system that will save the mission of the Constitution.
What is needed is a new perspective that is readily understood, easily adopted, and radically effective in clarifying what we can do to unify those who know the Constitution is our best hope. We need an insight that provides a key for the future of our Republic.
Here is that insight:
All political conflict is about rights.
This is the key concept and the reader will want to ponder it a bit. Let me ask this question to help with that: Can you think of a political issue that cannot be traced back to a question of rights? Who has what rights and how best to exercise and protect them while advancing the public good? Even seemingly obviously good legislation like directing gasoline taxes to road construction is about the right of government to levy taxes.
If it is true that all political discussions are ultimately about rights, then it is clear that the fundamental platform from which we should mount all political argument is the rights platform. I have cast it in the most personal wording possible for reasons to be explained below.
The Rights Platform
- If I can do it, I have the right to do it, and so do you.
- My rights end where yours begin.
- You and I have equal entitlement to our rights.
- Equal under the law prevents me from dominating you.
- You have no legitimate power over me without my prior consent.
- Good and moral enhance and empower rights. Immoral and evil violate rights.
- Good and freely built contracts between you and me enhance our aesthetic, emotional, economical, and personal circumstances.
- By the good exercise of our rights, we will continue to show the world how this works.
In order to be powerful it must be simple and it must be new, and it must speak directly to each citizen. It must give people an “aha” moment, and it must first and foremost be positive, unifying, and filled with hope. It must also strum the heart strings of our original rallying cry for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
The Available Assets
The engineers in Huston pored over their assets and cobbled together a device that saved the astronauts and their mission. We can do the same.
- We have the profound, innate, human sense of justice and equality that is evident even in toddlers. It is our most powerful motivator. “It’s not fair,” is one of the most deeply felt and loudest complaints of a child. An appeal to, and emphasis on the right to choose who and how we will be governed will rejuvenate hope every time it is encountered. The light of hope will dispel the dark discouragement that has already caused many to give up.
- We have the tradition of freedom that will be reawakened by emphasis on rights and their free exercise.
- We have a recent election of the most influential human on the planet in question. That question represents an opportunity for the advancement of a new paradigm, a new rallying cry, a new lease on liberty.
- We have a large number of political leaders who know in their hearts that we have a fundamental problem but lack the ability to verbalize it in a way that suggests a solution. The simplicity of the rights platform will empower it. The sophistry of the extreme left evaporates in a focus on rights.
- We have a large number of institutions who can rally around a rights emphasis and quickly educate their followers in this simple new focus.
- We have the power of truth on the side of conservation of rights and the Constitution.
- We have the power of simplicity.
Rights and Entitlements
The concept of rights and entitlements are the atoms of all political initiatives yet those initiatives are rarely cast in that light. Rather, they are cast as social needs and perceived injustices. That hides the fundamental issue of who has what rights, and what entitlements are being promoted as if they were rights.
A right is always intimately connected to an ability, while an entitlement is a claim to some thing or some condition. Rights and entitlements are very different animals and too often treated as synonyms. The resulting confusion has written many a bad law.
A nationwide focus on rights and entitlements, both properly conceived, can dispel the widespread ignorance of these fundamentals and lay the foundation for a new wave of constitutionalism among our people – both liberal and conservative.
We can be one nation, conceived in liberty and united in the exercise of our individual rights.