THE BLOG
10/03/2012 11:22 am ET Updated Dec 03, 2012

What Would Locke Think?

Most Americans probably forget about who John Locke was. No, he was not the just the name of a character from the television series, Lost. Locke is the British philosopher most high school civic teachers mention briefly when beginning their American government classes. Before I took an Advanced Placement course in American government and majored in political science, reading one of Locke's major works, The Second Treatise of Civil Government, I only understood generally his description of the "state of nature" which we exist in. Locke, writing during the Enlightenment era of the 17th century, was able to pen the proper relationship of people to government. His ideas would forever be cemented in a legacy circa 100 years later when Thomas Jefferson authored The Declaration of Independence, drawing heavily from Locke's philosophy.

Jefferson's words breath a sense of nostalgia into most Americans, "when in the course of human events," were the beginning of a document largely echoing Locke's voice. Locke believed that people consented to be governed, and that power ultimately, always resided with the people. The "people" enter into an intangible "social contract," where we allow the government to exist, however, government should always be viewed cautiously. Somehow, by today's standards we have veered wildly away from these ideals. Citizens in attendance at the Democratic National Convention this year were overjoyed at the idea that they were "owned" by the government. Are they ignorant to the fact that they have inverted the relationship found in their contract? Or, have they been led to believe that it is OK by modern elites?

After last summer's shocking Supreme Court decision, where Chief Justice John Roberts somehow forgot about the document he swore to uphold and protect, and unilaterally granted a new right to the government, not found in the social contract: the right to compel citizens to perform a certain behavior via taxation. The supporters of the original law in question, the Affordable Care Act, affectionately known as "Obamacare," hailed Roberts' betrayal of the U.S. Constitution, as wonderful. After all, is it not time to "spread the wealth" around and provide health care for all those who do not have it (or at least a portion of it)? Is it not time to move away from the ideals of the Democratic-Republic which changed the face of the world forever in the 1700s, and allow government to dictate behavior to individuals? You can have John Locke. You can have Karl Marx (though you should move elsewhere). But, you cannot have both. As the forces of socialist modernity, fully-removed from the generation which remembers the Cold War, and the inevitable power grab which underlies socialist rule, continue to allow their savior to mark-up the Constitution, the paragraphs of Locke's social contract are being deleted word-by-word.

Does this mean that John Locke would be a Republican in 2012? Obviously, our two-party system and the liberal and conservative philosophy which underlies it, is not something which enters into the social contract, nor the work of Locke. The very definition of what we think of as liberal and conservative did not exist in Locke's time. Nevertheless, conservative ideology which endeavors to secure individual liberty, and limit the scope of government domestically, would seem to align with the premise of the social contract.

I do not believe that most modern liberals do not love the Constitution, and the United States of America; I simply believe that in trying to achieve goals of social justice, they have inadvertently been lulled into the belief that big government is preferable, even lulled into the belief that they can be "owned" by the government. They have forgotten the social contract of Locke. They have forgotten the powerful words of Jefferson. They have forgotten what the U.S. Constitution did to change humanity forever. They are being led like sheep toward the fast-approaching edge of the "fiscal cliff," when a serious calamity promises to lull them into giving up even more of their "God-given" rights. The question you must decide is: will you follow the other sheep?