What Is The Purpose Of Government In The Modern United States

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Thomas Jefferson was an incredibly influential scholar whose writing and philosophical beliefs are still felt in the constitution and the heart of the modern United States. He was the primary author for the Declaration of Independence in addition to becoming the 3rd president. His beliefs are an excellent portrayal of the mindset held by many people during those times popular enough to even overthrow Britain and instate a new government. An exceptional illustration of his ideals are present when he wrote “The purpose of government is to enable the people of a nation to live in safety and happiness. Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors”. Jefferson adamantly believed that every individual is born with certain unalienable rights which a government cannot infringe upon and if a government does so it is a citizen's duty to overthrow an unjust government.

Due to the previous King of Britain and his treatment of the then British Colonies in North America, the Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, were skeptical of a powerful government. In fact, their disapproval of the authoritarian ruler of Britain was so prominent a large portion of their Declaration of Independence was dedicated to grievances with his ruling as an “absolute Tyranny over these States” . This disdain for authority caused by unjust and unfair abuse caused in precise language for the Founding Fathers to emphasize that the citizens of a country are bestowed “unalienable rights” by their creator, not a government, which cannot be infringed upon. These rights protect the individual and do not allow any political regime to remove them, ensuring the protection of one's freedom. Furthermore, “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men”solidifying the notion that the benefit of governing is “not for the governors” but instead “of the people by the people for the people”.

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The Founding Fathers were explicit that the United States of America was meant to be a democracy headed by people elected with the 'consent of the governed'. In their writing, it is unmistakable that Jefferson took time using specific language to emphasize that a government does not hold power inherently but with permission from the people. The representatives of the citizens of the United States must enact the will of the populace faithfully. In order to guarantee the influence of the people as well as restrict the power of a central government, it is necessary to have a system in place allowing for citizens to “alter their constitutions of government'. Furthermore, Jefferson stated plainly that if a government encroaches on the citizen’s inalienable rights by restricting their influence of their own governing then it is the responsibility “of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government”.

A fault of Jefferson’s logic becomes apparent as one begins to recognize the difference between his words and his actions. There is a famous line in the declaration, which Jefferson is a primary author of, stating “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” but with a modern frame of reference, you can clearly see that to the men then all men were not created equal. It was said all men yet at the time only white land-owning men could vote and participate in a government meant to protect all. Not only were minorities as well as women not allowed to voice their opinions, but they were actively abused and beaten down by a government that claimed to be protecting both them and their “unalienable rights”. I’m sure it is clear to anyone alive today that enslaving people was an infringement on their rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Furthermore, these problems and disregard for the rights of marginalized groups aren’t exclusive to the past as today, legally, prisoners can be enslaved with the amendment saying “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction”. Despite these major flaws in both Thomas Jefferson's beliefs as well as the modern-day reality of America’s governing, his quote about a government working for the people still remains the ideal reality.

The belief that governments are made to serve the people although not new was modern and allowed Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers to develop a country that has lasted centuries. Although, as time has progressed flaws in their views have been found thanks to the systems they implemented to change and evolve our constitution into a better country.

 Additionally, although our modern-day country is not perfect as long as the importance of the fact that governments are meant to serve the people, America will continue to evolve for the better.

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