Here’s How Rousseau Poses the Question in the opening passages of his book, The Social Contract:
“The problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before.”
Rousseau’s Definition of the Problem divides the concept of “right” into two parts. The latter part—described as permitting each person to “still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before”—is what the Founding Fathers intended by their term, “unalienable rights.”
These Are Rights Which Cannot Be Granted; they can only be withheld or denied.
But Rousseau’s Former Part—“to defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate”“—is what James Madison labeled a “social right.”
When People Make the Entitlement-sounding Claim that “healthcare is a right,” this is the sort of a “right” that they mean.
The Most-striking Facet of the Right/left Political Divide in the U.S. is between (R) those who believe that our nation’s greatness rests on defending the “unalienable rights” while minimizing the “social rights” and (L) those who believe that our nation’s greatness combines the best of both kinds of rights.
The Left Wants to Expand the American Social Contract so as to include as many citizens as possible within the level playing field of opportunity.
The Right, Believing That America Inherently Provides a level playing field, wants merely to keep government small, and to limit the complications of the social contract.
Both Sides Have Validity. The discussion on “rights,” here in America, is long-overdue.
The Reason for the “Coffee Party” Approach—rather than the “Tea Party” approach—is that one side would rather work together to solve our problems, while the other side is prepared to use force (Louder voices. Financial advantage. Fear tactics. Foreign invasions, if necessary. Etc.) in order to prevail.
May the Best Nation Win!
Here Are Two Relevant Links: