Government in America

by Dr. Tibor Machan
The Daily Bell

The central achievement of the American Revolution was to demote government to a role of cop on the beat. The monarch stopped being the sovereign; the citizen became sovereign instead. Self-government became an aspiration for all people not just rulers.

The idea became prominent, at least for a while, that government’s proper role is to secure the natural rights of the citizenry. There was nothing there about a nanny or a regulatory state. John Locke, who identified the most principled version of the classical liberal conception of government, argued that since in “the state of nature” – i.e., prior to civilized society – some people may pose a serious threat to others, a system of laws is needed so as to mark everyone’s sphere of authority, a region within which one is in full charge and which others must respect instead of trespass upon.

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