Government 101 – 1776

After reading through several state constitutions written during the Age of Enlightenment, my summary of government is as follows.

Man, for his own satisfaction and safety, requires company. But for such company to be enjoyed, certain rules must be obeyed for the sake of all in attendance. Government is that device which creates and enforces those restrictions. And so none lack incentive to follow such rules, their enforcement must apply equally to everyone, without favor or bias.

In essence, these rules are limits on selfishness. In order to accommodate the needs of all, individuals must agree to limitations on their own power and influence, as well as their use and ownership of shared resources. Everyone is entitled to seek enjoyment from life, therefore individuals must not be coerced by the beliefs of others, nor lack the resources necessary to enable their pursuits.

Government is comprised not of leaders, but servants of the people, put in place for the benefit of all, therefore, if some are unable to pursue their happiness, this is a failure of government that requires remedy. So that all may equally share in the blessings of life, there can be no privilege separate from the community, nor positions of inheritance, and everyone is due equivalent participation in government.

When interacting with those they serve, officials of government must be moderate and impartial, as well as subject to scrutiny. If rules are broken or disputes need settling, it is best when citizens in the community decide outcomes. So as to limit corruption and oppression, segments of government must be distinct and cooperate only through formal and transparent agreements.

Whereas a people have the right to their common defense, an army maintained during the time of peace is prone to abuse, therefore, it is properly comprised of those that return to the community and whose authority is at all times subservient to the consent of the people. Everyone is due protection, but all are expected to contribute their share of the expense of that protection, by whatever means they are capable.

So that a community remains cohesive, the principles of equality, moderation, and the common good must be upheld at all times. All are entitled to follow their own beliefs, yet as a community, each must practice tolerance and uphold a spirit of giving toward one another. And by these principles, the people should select and hold accountable, those that represent them in government.

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