I happened to hear Rush Limbaugh on Friday. He sarcastically chastised the pundits and “really smart people” who argue that the Republican party must be more inclusive. We should reach out to women, he said, by being pro-abortion. We should reach out to gays, he said, by supporting same-sex marriages. We should reach out to Hispanics, he said, by favoring amnesty for illegals. We should reach out to the young, he said, by supporting the legalization of drugs.

What Rush, and Republicans in general, don’t understand, is the concept of individual rights. If they did, they would drop this whole notion of trying to appeal to certain groups and appeal to individuals.

The Declaration of Independence, which Rush is fond of citing, states that all men (read humans) possess certain inalienable rights, among these being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We, like Rush, have heard these words since childhood. But what do they mean?

The right to life means that you own your life. I own my life. Each individual owns his life. The right to liberty means the freedom to act as you judge best, for your life. The right to the pursuit of happiness means the freedom to pursue the values that you want.

These rights, like all rights, pertain to freedom of action—the freedom to act according to one’s own judgment.

This means that individuals—including women—have a right to do with their body as they choose. This means that individuals—including gays—have a right to marry the person of their choosing. This means that individuals—including Hispanics—have a right to live where they choose. This means that individuals—including the young—have a right to ingest the substances of their choosing.

Supporting individual rights does not mean being pro-abortion or pro-drugs. It means supporting the right of individuals to live as they choose.

If the Republicans hope to become relevant again, that is a lesson that they must learn. And that is the message that they must deliver.

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Brian Phillips has been actively defending individual rights for the past twenty-five years. He has successfully helped defeat attempts to implement zoning in Houston, Texas, and Hobbs, New Mexico. His writing has appeared in The Freeman, Reason, The Orange County Register, The Houston Chronicle, The Objective Standard, Capitalism Magazine, and dozens of other publications. He is the author of Individual Rights and Government Wrongs

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