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History

The Social Contract Is Broken

The job of government in a democratic country is to protect the rights of its citizens. At this point, though, it doesn’t seem like that’s happening.

The rights we have are eroding at a quick pace and we have less economic opportunity and freedom. Citizens are willing to give up their rights for safety and freebies rather than be free; and political appointees and cronies blatantly lie to congressional committees rather than give up the dirt on various scandals in which they have played a part. And among all the chaos the mainstream media acts like a docile puppy rather than engaging in its actual job of being a watchdog.

What our government has done in recent years is break the social contract, the political theory set forth by philosopher John Locke. His book, “The Second Treatise of Civil Government,’’ outlines the responsibilities of a government that is based on liberty and the rights of the individual. “Life, liberty, and property’’ are the natural rights we all have under the political philosophy of Locke. Are the words familiar? They should be since two of the three were written into our founding document: the Declaration of Independence. In fact, much of the political philosophy in the Declaration of Independence comes directly from Locke.

The responsibility of government, according to Locke, is to protect those rights. And when a government abuses its power — by taking those rights away — it is the responsibility of the citizens to do something about it. Why? Because the original social contract has been broken between government and citizens. So, what is it that we citizens can do? One possibility is that government can be overthrown. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “that whenever any form of government becomes destructive…, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government.’’

Jefferson took many of the ideas of John Locke and incorporated them into his own writings as did many of the other founders of the United States. From 1760 to the beginning of the American Revolution, England’s King George III and British Parliament perpetrated unjust laws upon the American colonists: parliament passed the Writs of Assistance which imposed on privacy rights; British soldiers were quartered in the homes of the citizens of Boston; the Massachusetts colonial assembly was dissolved and, in effect, so was the right to self-rule; and a multitude of taxes were placed on the colonists, which we all learned in school (remember the slogan, “No taxation without representation’’?).

Now, we are seeing similar tyrannies that the American colonists suffered through: excessive taxation, which will possibly continue as Obamacare becomes more difficult to pay for; National Security Administration surveillance; Justice Department wiretapping on journalists; the Internal Revenue Service targeting of Tea Party groups; the assault on religion and free speech in our first amendment; and gun control.

If it takes vigilance to keep our rights and freedoms, then we’re in trouble because we’ve become too complacent. As the saying goes, “Freedom isn’t free.”

Are we hoping someone comes to the rescue? No one should hope for that when both of the major political parties are involved, and the mainstream press is just the mouthpiece of the government. As Locke believed, it’s the citizen’s duty to make the needed changes.

In 1776, the American colonists took Locke’s advice, by way of Thomas Jefferson, then took it upon themselves to stare down King George and the British army. Today, the American citizens who are aware of what’s happening have a job to do: to get the complacent more aware of the lies, corruption, and propaganda. And together we can restore our rights and the U.S. Constitution – in other words, restore the social contract that our country is based on.

About pm

Teacher, writer, and freedom lover.

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