John McCain is not shy about expressing his moral vision for America. When he officially announced his candidacy, he said, “I run for president because I want the next generation of Americans to know the sense of pride and purpose of serving a cause greater than themselves.” Recently, while speaking at the College of Charleston [February 2000], he was even more explicit: “There is nothing more noble than to sacrifice and serve our country’s cause, causes greater than our self-interest.”

For McCain, causes greater than one’s self can take on any number of forms. “Every place there’s a hungry child, there’s a great cause; every place there’s a senior citizen without a shelter, there’s a great cause; everywhere someone is killing each other for ethnic or tribal disputes or age-old hatreds, there’s a great cause,” he said while campaigning in South Carolina. In other words, a cause is great as long as it benefits others and not yourself.

The morality of self-sacrifice that McCain advocates can only have one political consequence-statism. If an individual is morally required to serve others and the state, then there is no reason for his freedom to be the government’s central concern. Instead, the government should be concerned with the always undefined “society” as a whole, sacrificing individuals for “a cause greater than themselves,” whenever it determines the needs of some individuals warrants this.

The morality that advocates placing the interests of others above one’s own is called altruism. It is not a new morality-thanks to religion it has been the de facto morality for 2,000 years-but McCain promotes it with greater consistency than any presidential candidate in recent memory.

On nearly every issue-from foreign policy to campaign contributions to abortion to smoking-McCain takes the side of more government interference and less freedom for individuals in the name of the common good. He is in favor of the United States interfering in situations where our national best interests are not served, such as in Kosovo. McCain wants to ban “soft money” contributions, which would prevent individuals from financially supporting politicians who have ideas of which they approve. Instead, the government would be left to dole out individuals’ money to candidates, whose ideas they may or may not support. On the issue of abortion, McCain believes that potential humans have rights, but an actual woman doesn’t because her body is God’s property. And worst of all, he spearheaded the government looting spree that stole billions of dollars from innocent tobacco companies. Their crime? Selling a potentially dangerous product to willing customers who are fully aware that inhaling tar does not promote one’s health.

One of McCain’s campaign slogans is, “The character to do what’s right. The courage to fight for it.” McCain is not right-he is dead wrong-and must be identified as such. Altruism, the moral code that demands sacrifice and suffering, has never been justified without an appeal to mystical spirits or to the will of the public. When practiced consistently, it has had and can have only one possible result-death and destruction. For a human to successfully sustain his own life it requires a process of thought directed toward production for his own benefit. In any social system based on altruism, the products of a man’s effort can be taken from him at any time, leaving him powerless to provide for his life and pursue his values. When government makes it impossible for the competent to survive, the incompetents it claims to be serving fare even worse. For two historical examples of the impossibility of life under such a system, see Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

For those who doubt the validity of comparing Adolf Hitler’s fascism to McCain’s altruism, consider the following quote: “It is thus necessary that the individual should finally come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of his nation… that above all the unity of a nation’s spirit and will are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and the will of an individual….” This was not stated by McCain at a recent victory party; it was uttered by Hitler as he explained the ethical foundations of the Nazi Party.

Those who value their freedom should reject McCain and his deadly moral code. America was founded on the principle of inalienable rights, not dictated duties. The Declaration of Independence states that every human being has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It does not state that he is born a slave to the needs of others. If McCain is elected president, it will be only a matter of time before political institutions follow his morality to its logical conclusions. It is truly a matter of life or death.