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The confusion that arises due to not following the Constitution is confusion over the most basic idea in society: what is the role of government? Some believe it is to keep us safe. Some believe it is financial stability, both in the form of welfare and in central banks controlling the money supply.

Even some believe it is the federal government’s role to educate the youth and to control property in order to protect the environment. But our founders and other great thinkers and writers throughout history have already come to a conclusion on this matter: the role of government is to secure our liberty. It effectively says this right in the Declaration of Independence, saying we are “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—that to secure these rights, governments are institut ed among men…”

Even before the revolution, there was John Locke, known as the “father of classical liberalism”. He wrote his Second Treatise of the Government in 1689 in part to define the role of government. I doubt this will be required reading under Common Core, but it should be read by everyone. The reason he gives for people living under government is:

[under no government,] the enjoyment of the property man has in this state is very unsafe, very insecure. This makes him willing to quit this condition which, however free, is full of fears and continual dangers; and it is not without reason that he seeks out and is willing to join in society with others who are already united, or have mind to unite for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties and estates, which I call by the general name—property. The great and chief end, therefore, of men uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property.

Our federal government is not intended to keep us safe at the cost of liberty. Its purpose is not to pat us down and scan us when we travel, it’s not to detain us indefinitely with no due process if it considers us domestic terrorists, it’s not to disarm us. As Locke says:

Men would not quit the freedom of the state of Nature for, and tie themselves up under [government], were it not to preserve their lives, liberties, and fortunes…It cannot be supposed that they should intend, had they a power to do so, to give any one or more an absolute arbitrary power over their persons and estates, and put force into the magistrate’s hand to execute his unlimited will arbitrarily upon them; this were to put themselves into a worse condition than the state of Nature…

In other words, why would mankind want to live under an oppressive government? Our situation is made worse under tyranny than if there was no government at all. Furthermore, we shouldn’t expect government to make us prosperous. Prosperity comes from hard work, not government handouts. Founder and first Governor of Virginia, Patrick Henry, stated in his speech on the ratification of the Constitution (found in the Anti-Federalist Papers) on June 5th, 1788: “you are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government.”

So if the role of government is to protect our liberty, does it follow that government grants us that liberty? Absolutely not. According to founder and second President of the United States, John Adams, “you have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe”. In other words, we are born with the right to self-defense, the right to the fruits of our labor, and so on. In agreement with this is founder, author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President, Thomas Jefferson. He says in his pamphlet A Summary View of the Rights of British America in 1774 before the revolution, “the God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.”

In a Republic, the government is limited in order to protect the liberty we are born with. According to Locke, rulers should be “kept within their due bonds,” and in America, those bonds are in the Constitution.

Ryan Black

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