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Expanding the Meaning of Rights

In pronouncing health care a right, President-elect Obama took an enormous step in the direction of re-framing one of the most contested domestic issues in a way that has profound implications for a wide variety of other issues.

In the second presidential debate, the candidates were asked whether health care was “a privilege, a right, or a responsibility.” Senator McCain said it was a responsibility—of government and business. You said that it “should be a right for every American” and cited as “fundamentally wrong” your mother’s experience of being denied payment for her treatments as she lay dying of cancer.

In pronouncing health care a right, you took an enormous step in the direction of re-framing one of the most contested domestic issues in a way that has profound implications for a wide variety of other issues. Whether you intended to or not!

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