The Only Purpose For Government In A Free Society

Aside from the occasional anarchist, few people question the need for government.  Even the Colonial freedom fighters expressed the need for government in the Declaration of Independence, wherein they called for replacing rule of a king with a government that derived its power from the consent of the governed.  As soon as British troops and their Hessian mercenaries were excused to return to their homes across the Atlantic, representatives of the free colonies set to work to define a new government.  Taking large sections from existing colonial constitutions already in place in Virginia and elsewhere, they carefully drafted the original U.S. Constitution.

At that time, many thought the purpose of the Constitution was to unite the colonies for mutual defense and to guaranty the free flow of interstate commerce.  But a majority of the framers demanded that the document also guaranty certain human rights, which they highlighted by creating the Bill of Rights contained in the first ten amendments.  It’s by reading the Bill Of Rights that we discover the only purpose for government in a free society.

The Bill of Rights specifically restricts the federal government from infringing upon certain rights of the People and of the States.  Along with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, there are thousands of papers, pamphlets and letters written by America’s founders that confirm government’s ultimate purpose –

To protect the liberty of the individual citizen.

Other than referring to elected and appointed officials as “the Government” or “the States” and everyone else as “the People,” the Constitution makes no reference to any classes, groups or organizations that have any special rights or privileges.  All rights are afforded to the People and the individual citizen.

The government is charged with certain tasks, enumerated in the Constitution, that contribute towards protecting individual liberty.

–          National defense secures an environment in which individual liberty can be enjoyed.

–          Regulation of interstate commerce protects the right of citizens to conduct free trade within the union, either individually or through companies ultimately owned by people

–          Protection of liberties listed in the Bill Of Rights and elsewhere

–          Many others…

Only when government is the tool of a dictatorship or tyranny does it operate for any purpose other than to serve the people.  Every function of government should be traced to a specific Constitutionally-authorized task that ultimately benefits all the people equally.  When the actions of government benefit one group over another, that is a sign that a dictatorship or tyranny is in control and protection of individual liberty is at risk.

The Declaration of Independence states –

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The Declaration and the Constitution are abundantly clear – the purpose of government is to secure the rights of the people.  When government ceases to provide equal liberty for all and undertakes tasks not authorized by the People, that government should be replaced.