What is the Purpose of Government?

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Published on: January 20, 2015

Try this question out some time when politics is being discussed at the picnic or the ball game or the cocktail party.

It’s such a straightforward question that it can really be a stumper…

If you ask this question, here’s what most people will say, if they say anything at all:

  • “The purpose of government is to make a level playing field.”
  • “The purpose of government is to do for people what they can’t do for themselves.”
  • “The purpose of government is to provide a safety net.”

Some will even say: “The purpose of government is to provide for the welfare of the children of the state.”

Of course, not surprisingly in today’s culture, these answers belie a socialist sentiment.

But, what, in the American View, is the purpose of government?”

Well, let’s look for a moment at what Thomas Jefferson and our founding founders said the purpose of government was.

In our Declaration of Independence, the document that sets forth the reason for separation from the English crown, they said:

  • There is a God
  • He – God – is the source of our rights
  • The proper purpose of civil government is to protect and secure these rights – what rights? – well, those God-given rights they just mentioned in the previous sentence.

So, in the American View, the purpose of government is… to protect God-given rights.

They went on to say one more pretty important thing. They said that whenever any government – any government – fails to do this…The people should – MUST – alter OR ABOLISH it. While this may sound like a revolutionary statement, this IS the quintessential, AMERICAN View.

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