On Monday night on the last day of July 2000, Colin Powell gave a truly awful speech at the Republican convention. It appears that he intends to move the Republican party even further away from individual rights and freedom and closer towards collectivism and altruism.

Using the political bromide of “the children”, Powell used children as a means to collectively chain all individuals: “our children are a gift from God, not only to their parents, but to all of us. They belong to us all. We are all responsible for them. ”

Given this universal obligation, Powell immediately calls for wealth to be collectively transferred, using lines worthy of our time’s arch-collectivist, Hillary Clinton: “With all of our wealth and capacity, we just can’t stand by idly. We must make sure that every child in America has access to quality health care.”

“You know, if we truly believe — if we truly believe they are all our children, then all of us must be willing to spend more to repair our schools and spend more to pay our teachers better.”

Who is “we” and what exactly are these programs on which “we must” spend money? Rather than emphasizing that individuals be responsible for their own children, Powell seemed to envision some form of collectivist state.

Of course, while “the children” are initially collectors of sacrifices, Powell insists that they be inculcated early with the morality of altruism, in order to be prepared to sacrifice themselves: “As we are giving these necessities and other necessities to our children, let’s ask them to also give something back to the community of which they are a part. Early in life, help them learn of the joy that comes from giving to others, help them learn that through service to others, service to community, that what’s important in life is giving to others…”

Hillary Clinton herself pointed out that her theme of “it takes a village” to raise a child, had been stolen. And indeed it would have been a fairly standard speech coming from the Democratic convention. Colin Powell the next day said that he would take a hypothetical job offer from a President Gore under “serious consideration.”

Colin Powell’s philosophy of self-sacrifice and duty (such as sacrificing children in volunteerism programs to help others), has become his political trademark. It’s shameful but not surprising that Republicans are willing to go along with this and cheer him on.

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Andrew West

Andrew West is a Contributing Economics Editor for Capitalism Magazine. In 1997 he received the Chartered Financial Analyst designation from the Association for Investment Management and Research.