What Makes A Good Government? Essay Example
|📌Published:||14 March 2021|
What makes a good government? The purpose of government is not only to keep peace within the country by creating and enforcing laws, or protecting the country from other aggressive nations but also to ensure people are treated fairly and equally. In fact for over 200 years there has been a disagreement on what government should have control over or be involved in. Many U.S. Presidents have leaned towards the same view as the founding fathers, that the government should only ensure the safety of the nation and its residents but still other presidents believe a good government does more for its citizens.
A good government is there to help the people by creating laws and enacting punishments when needed. Similarly President Lincoln believed that "The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so we'll do, for themselves-in their separate, and individual capacities"(Lincoln,p.304). Lincoln believed that a government should be there to help their people when the people can't help themselves. John Locke, a famous philosopher that studied politics and government in the late 1600's, believed "Freedom of men under government is, to have a standing rule to live by, common to everyone of that society, and made by the legislative power erected in it; a liberty to follow my own will in all things, where the rule prescribes not" (Locke & McPherson, 2010). This suggests that we need some laws that everyone has to follow making everyone feel safe. It also suggests that we can still feel free because if there is no law that says you can't do something then you can do it.
A good government also focuses on equality and the general welfare of it's citizens. Our founding fathers believed this and included the following in the Declaration of Independence "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. (Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, 1776). This shows that our founding fathers believed that we are all equal even if we have different beliefs. Take the Preamble to The Constitution, "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,..." (U.S. Const., Preamble,). The founding fathers included the words “domestic tranquility" and "promote the general welfare" as a reminder of how important these things are to citizens. President Lincoln said, "government is expressly charged with the duty of providing for the general welfare. We believe that the spreading out and perpetuity of the institution of slavery impairs the general welfare." (Lincoln, Douglas, Jaffa, & Johannsen, 1970,p.304). Lincoln had believed that slavery was something that should be decided by the states themselves but this quote shows his view had changed. In addition throughout history and even today, many people believe a large government is better for the country but there are also many who feel a small government is best.
Some people think that the federal government should only handle what is stated in The Constitution however interpretations have changed and so should we. Thomas Jefferson, in his First Inaugural Address in 1801 said, “Still one thing more, fellow citizens- a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government…..”(Jefferson, 2020). This view doesn't take into account monopolies that hurt free enterprise. Monopolies hurt the economy because they don't allow small businesses to grow. This quote also suggests that the government shouldn't collect taxes but as shown throughout U.S. history, taxes are needed to establish and maintain our military to keep our nation safe. President Grover Cleveland also agreed that the government shouldn't help individuals as shown in this quote, “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution; and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit.” (Reed, 2005). This says that people who have fallen on hard times should not receive help from the federal government. In the Declaration of Independence, it says people have "inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." (Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, 1776). People who have fallen on hard times should be given help to achieve their natural rights- their liberty and happiness. All in all, some will argue, that smaller governments allow more individual freedoms but larger governments have the ability to help and protect those freedoms when needed.
All in all a good government keeps everyone safe by creating laws and enforcing them. As Lincoln found during his political career, the purpose of government is to keep people safe, make sure people don't hurt each other, and help people in need. The Federal government has helped many different people over the years which improved the general welfare of the country. Since our founding fathers drafted the constitution, the political interpretation of its meaning has changed, which made us a better country.