How can it be that a political advertisement by the Kerry campaign finally crystallized my voting decision? According to politicos, only goobers change their minds based on political advertisements. The theory goes that if you are making decisions about whom to vote for based on 30 second marketing spots, then you probably don’t know much about politics or the news to begin with.
That assumption is largely true for many of the coveted swing voters that both parties desperately chase. Although there does exist that rare political animal who is still an independent, the majority of people who know their politics have their minds made up before the political ad season starts. Luckily for politicians, “people who know their politics” constitutes a pretty small number of voters. This month, however, John Kerry did it. He guaranteed that I could never vote for him, and all because of a little 30 second ad.
Some people will rightly point out that I probably wouldn’t have been voting for Kerry anyway. As registered Republican and philosophical libertarian, Kerry’s politics are anathema to most of the issues I care about. Still, the last four years of the Bush administration have held some extremely uninspiring moments for libertarian Republicans. From a lack of budget discipline to ballooning government programs, many of President Bush’s policies can hardly be called libertarian friendly. Surprising as it may sound, my vote has been in play for the last two years despite my ideological differences with the Kerry camp. That all changed one morning last week.
While eating a heaping bowl of Special K, hunched over the Journal, my breakfast was enhanced by John Kerry’s latest political ad. In it, Kerry addresses the issue of health care in the United States, a legitimate campaign issue by any measure. But then, while talking about making health care more affordable, he id it. He said the “R” word, “Right.” Boom. John Kerry just lost my vote, and he will never get it again.
There can never be any Right which requires one citizen, by threat of force, to provide for another. Such a right is nothing more than government sanctioned forced servitude, and we have another word for it in our history. Yet a “right” to health care does just that. No matter how you slice it, such a “right” requires that the efforts and labor of one citizen be conscripted and seized in order to provide for another citizen. Wether or not such a system would be beneficial or ethically deplorable is a discussion for another day, but such a system can never, ever be considered a “right.” In the same way that a welfare check and a public road are not rights, but rather public services offered because the government has the largess to provide them, no system of health care reform can every be anything but a government service.
A fine difference? I think not. Calling something a right means that it can never be denied to anyone. Think of the implications of that statement, both morally and practically. John Locke would have a few words to say about that, and so do I.
Sure, at the end of the day, its just a word, and perhaps Kerry was just throwing it around to make a point. But in my view, “right” is the most important word in the English language, and if Kerry is so loose in using it, he reveals either a deep philosophical deficiency or the willingness to sign away our -real- rights just to get more votes. Who knows what other “rights” Mr. Kerry believes in? Rights are too important a concept to be treated as a game, especially on an issue as far reaching as health care. Health care reform? Fine. More government health care programs? Fine. But a right? I think not.
And so, Mr. Kerry has lost my vote, and all because of a single word on a single political advertisement. Does that mean I’ll be voting for President Bush? Well, I still have my ideological differences with him too, but the choice is no longer between Bush and Kerry, it is between Bush and “somebody else.”