Friday, July 20, 2012 essay

So I had to write an essay.
Here's the prompt:
Write an essay on whether or not the people of the US have an obligation to obey the US government. Deal with Locke, principle of obligation to government, whether government has a right ot exist and if so what type and how. Write with the understanding that it cannot simply be presupposed that today’s existing pattern on property-titles represents true ownership, though it might if you were able to establish some justifications for it. Deal with rights of people and the question of who has a right ot tell others what to do and to punish them if the disobey. Discuss democracy and majority rule and your views on whether they have a role in the question on legitimacy of government. Be sure to cover the questions of the boundaries of legitimate governance. For example, are the people of other countries where a government kills people rightfully citizens of the country that exercises this power over them? Do they have the right to vote for that country’s government? What exactly are the boundaries of citizenship and authority? Attack or support the positions of any writer we’ve read (including me) that are relevant to the points you are making. I’m interested, of course, in true rights, not in whatever some pieces of paper might say.


So here is my essay...terribly long.  Sorry.  If you read though it, or just a part of it, let me know your opinion.

Government is a necessary and a desirable entity
Written by: Ruth

            People are followers; it’s human nature.  We need a small group of people, with good intentions for the whole, to lead us.  Thus we need government and we need the selected people within that government to poke and prod those within our society as a whole with potential (not necessarily the correct elite lineage) to become leaders of the future.  However, the poking and prodding can create biased leaders with somewhat good intentions not for all, but for those they (the privileged few) rely on for support.  As followers we need and desire leaders; this is true of all past and present human societies.  As a democratic society we have gone about achieving this desirable government in ways that mostly support human rights rather than forcing control on a group of people we have conquered.
            In the mid to lat 1700’s, the people of the colonies needed change to end Britain’s oppressive control over the colonies prompting the writing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.  In breaking away, the colonists in essence agreed to the forming of a new government.  Because that new government was established and has not been over thrown, changed yes, but not overthrown, it is our obligation to obey the rules for the betterment of our society as a whole.  From John Locke and the formation of the United States Constitution to the current squabbles over illegal immigration, we as American citizens must follow the rules and regulations as we have allowed them to be written in order to protect the rights and liberties of our children and the many generations to come.  We must also remain diligent in upholding the founding principles of the government we support by electing leaders who will listen to the majority opinion and protect the system of democracy we have established and attempt to continually change the laws and punishments as necessary to protect our freedoms and liberties.  I will analyze the United States system of democracy as a whole and from an individual point of view.
            John Locke examined the human existence from the most simple perspective: lawlessness.  Stating that in the natural state,
[a]ll the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another; there being nothing more evident, than that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst another without subordination or subjection…

Locke argues that every person is the same and are given the same advantages from the beginning.  Locke also states when it comes to the harvesting of property “no man but he can have a right to what is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others.”  Locke is expressing that no mans work should allow him to take all the property so there is none left for others.  One must assume that if I cannot harvest all the fruits of the land to keep for myself so that there is none left for other persons, there are social rules in place even in the natural state of man: the simplest form of government.  These social rules imposed upon ungoverned man could be viewed as the opening to the obligation and desire for political power and the establishment of a government.  Locke says in Section 3 of Chapter 1, “Political power…for the regulating and preserving of property…this [is] only for the public good.”  The public good would not exist without the formation of a government.  In order to preserve the property one has obtained in the natural state, a person would be over occupied with protecting ones property.  By establishing a common law and a ruling party, a government, on aligns himself with others for the collective governing and preservation of the societies property.  In agreement with Locke, I find it necessary for the furthering of a great society, such as the United States, a need for government and an obligation of its citizens to support and follow said government.
            It has been successfully argued in the readings that the Founders of the United States and its democracy used many principles of John Locke.  By Lockes’ understanding of society, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence establishing that the people who are governed should be ruled by their own representatives stating, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” and “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it [the government], and to institute new Government.”  It is the belief of democratic societies that the minority should make the rules and applicable punishments for the majority based on the desires of the majority.  Thomas Jefferson detailed the ways in which King George ruled the colonists were not for the better good of the majority but rather created a state of constant abuse and misrepresentation in order to benefit the King rather than the citizens of the ruling government.  Thomas Jefferson states,
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.  A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the rule of a free people.

Suggesting that although taxed and oppressed like citizens of Britain, the colonists were refused the right to address their concerns and grievances because they were not treated as citizens but ruled by a Tyrant and abused.  The writing of the Declaration of Independence began, in my mind, the great debate of complete freedom versus justifiable governing over a societies citizens.
            It could be argued that the Constitution is a document written to give powers to the minority, the chosen elite governing party, rather than to control the use of the power over the people, the majority.  The power of a minority, usually a rich, landholding minority, to rule over the majority is one which needs many restrictions as to not corrupt the holders of this power.  The writers of the Constitution created the document to “crack down on delinquent debtors and taxpayers, [so] they reasoned, they would create a national government that could” as Holton stated in his Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution.  According to Locke and the supposed founding beliefs, the new government was to be formed for the “preservation of their [the citizens] property.”  So, it can be believed that the Framers did not have the interest of democracy in mind when trying to crackdown on the majority but rather the special interest of controlling and protecting their property above the property of the majority.  After reading the excerpts provided of Holton’s writing and the “Law of the Land,” I can only conclude it is the minority for whom the new government was established and that government was designed to redistribute wealth and property rightfully of the majority into the hands and regulations of the minority.  However, I must agree with Chief Justice Taney’s words (not his intentions) in the Supreme Court case Dred Scott v. Stanford (1857) wherein he stated as amended in the readings “If the Constitution is unjust, it can be amended.”  If as citizens we desire a government to provide protection of our property and well-being, we must force the leaders within that government to provide what we desire.  It is our obligation to demand representation of our beliefs and do what is necessary, such as amending the Constitution, in order to insure that those desires are protected.
            The United States Constitution gives many rights to the citizens of the United States.  The debate over who legitimately is allowed to take advantage of these rights is still occurring.  The debate started in the 17th century when British colonists settled and began shipping laborers to their farms.  These laborers being persons who were not free, established their owners as wealthy landowners through forced redistribution of their rightful property. The owners of the laborers and the British government did not consider the laborers citizens and thus they had no rights.  The land-owner minority, had created a protective system of control known as racism.  Because of the created racism and the ownership beliefs, when writing the Constitution it is assumed only certain persons were considered to have the rights as described within.  This brings to question: What happened to Locke’s idea that everyone is created equal from the beginning?  Many battles both in and out of court have been fought so that the rights written were assumed to be true for all citizens, without restrictions.
            The laws of the United States as established in the Constitution and specified by the individual states often created controversy.  Why is it the right of the Congress to regulate commerce as set in Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution?  Why is it the responsibility of the Government to enforce penalties?  Simply, we the citizens gave the government the right when we agreed to remove ourselves from the natural state in order to protect our property.  Every democracy is in theory perfect, but as we have amended the Constitution it must be assumed we need to regularly adjust and amend our ruling minority to continually protect our view of democracy.
            Democracy as a governing system works even at an individual level.  For example, as the owner of a business, I have given myself the role of governing body.  I establish the expectations and demands of my employees and the compensation they are given in exchange.  It is my right to impose these demands just as it is the employees right to walk away from the employment and consequently the compensation.  This democracy works because the majority, the employees, can exercise their rights to not be ruled by an overbearing governing system, the minority.  However, the situation in 1860 was much different.  The governing body, the owner, would still have the right to impose specific demands and expectations on his employees, slaves in this case.  However, the slave did not have the right to walk away; consequences for such an action could have included death.  Democracy did not apply in 1860 to the property of the owner, even if the property was a person.  Over the past 250 years, the view of citizenship has changed.  People have rights no matter their employment situation, people are not considered property.  Although different from 1860 to 2012, the system of Democracy on an individual level parallels the system on a national level.
            In the 21st century, we no longer debate the right to own people, but the citizenship debate is long from over.  Racism was ruled unconstitutional by the Civil War Amendments, Amendments 13, 14, and 15; racism is alive and well.  Many immigrants are moving to the possibility of a democracy and being refused the rights.  Following in the footsteps of W.E.B. DuBois the NAACP continues to fight for equal treatment of all people as described within the Constitution.  It is the obligation of the people of this country, its citizens, to continually battle against the corruption of the powerful minority.  In the United States it is the right and I believe the obligation of the citizens to fight for justice and equality of the majority through representation within our government.  If this it the desire of the people to be ruled by a minority, it should be the desire of the people to protect the rights of the people being ruled.
            Government is a desirable and necessary establishment.  The democratic process of ruling over people continues to change, but it remains necessary.  Consider, without a government we would be constantly arguing over property.  Although, imperfect, with and established government the arguments over property are limited because the government has outlined specific rights and liberties for the persons protected by that government.  The citizens of the United States must understand the rights and liberties they have been given in order to assist in protecting said rights; it’s our most important legacy for our children.

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