During an appearance on ABC’s This Week on July 1, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan argued that the Affordable Care Act passed into law by Congressional Democrats and signed by President Barack Obama should be repealed because rights come from “nature and God,” not the government.
“I think this at the end of the day is a big philosophy difference,” he continued. “What Ms. Kennedy and others were saying is that this is a new government-granted right. We disagree with the notion that our rights come from government, that the government can now grant us and define our rights. Those are ours, they come from nature and God, according to the Declaration of Independence — a huge difference in philosophy.”
While Rep. Ryan may believe that rights come from nature and God (not government), let’s take a look at just a few of the rights granted to our nation’s citizens by our government:
- Womens’ right to vote (granted by 19th amendment)
- Right to vote for all citizens, regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude (15th amendment)
- Right to bear arms (granted by 2nd amendment)
- Right of all citizens to live free from involuntary servitude (granted by 13th amendment)
- Right to a fair and speedy public trial by jury (granted by 6th amendment)
Further, Rep. Ryan’s assertion that rights come from nature and God ignores the fact that the very rights he’s referring to – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – were granted by the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence. Further, Rep. Ryan conveniently ignores the supreme hypocrisy in the fact that those rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness didn’t apply to the slaves being held against their will at the time by Americans. And let’s not forget that it was action by the government that finally allowed those slaves to begin to be able to enjoy those rights.