What is the responsibility of those in power? by Jake Thaw

“The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom” (Locke). John Locke, one of the most-well respected political philosophers in history believed that our government should allow the people to have control over the way the country runs and that everyone is born a good person. Therefore, doing anything wrong would make one feel guilty and they would in the end decide not to do that wrong act. I am not a perfect human being and often make mistakes that aren’t fixable, however when I do something wrong and know it is wrong, I do make an attempt to make it right and fix what I have done. This belief functions solely on whether or not everyone in the country thinks this way, however at the beginning of my research, I disregarded this and thought to myself, “no controlling government, everyone working together to keep the country running...why is this not the responsibility of all those in power?”

“The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom”-John locke

After doing research, I realized this was no proper way to govern a country. In order for this system of government to work, we would have to live in a perfect society--unfortunately we all know that is not the case. Many different experts on Locke’s State of Nature had many different interpretations on the way he thought a nation should be governed, however they all at least mentioned that he thought the power of the country should be in the people’s hands and the country would run well because everyone is born a good person. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Political Philosophy, “Many commentators have taken this as Locke's definition, concluding that the state of nature exists wherever there is no legitimate political authority able to judge disputes and where people live according to the law of reason. On this account the state of nature is distinct from political society, where a legitimate government exists, and from a state of war where men fail to abide by the law of reason” (State of Nature). Though it would be great if we could govern ourselves, it is highly unlikely that it would ever work. There would be no laws, no rules, and even if there were there would be no one to enforce them. Myself and, I’m sure, others wish that the law of reason (the belief that everyone will always do the right thing because if they don’t they will feel guilty and realize what they’re doing is wrong) is true throughout the world, however it is obvious that not every single person in the world is a good person. Since it is clear that Locke’s law of reason, or moral law, isn’t present in the world, I decided that it isn’t possible that the responsibility of those in power should be to let their country govern themselves based on morals. After I realized this, I shifted my thinking over to our type of government: Democracy.

Democracy: Everybody needs to be unified for it to work. (http://www.africablogging.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/n-DEMOCRACY-VOTING-HANDS-628x314.jpg)

Ideally, the best type of government would be Democracy. It’s that perfect mixture of letting the people control what goes on in one’s country as well as having a strong central government to protect the people and keep peace in one’s nation. Though this system seems ideal, in our country specifically, how happy we are with our country often correlates strongly with what the people we have put in power have done. Their actions and responsibility affect us directly, and that’s why a political system that seems like a match made in heaven with today’s world can be so easily corrupted and make the people unhappy. If our country was surveyed today and asked whether or not we are happy with democracy, I am confident 90%+ would say they are happy. However, if you then took a different survey asking whether we’re happy with who our system of democracy ended up electing, I am sure the percentage would drop drastically as people believe that what Trump wants to do in this country shouldn’t be his responsibility. Trump’s entire campaign this year was based on fear (Ball). More specifically, polls across the country have shown that the majority of Americans are concerned about being a victim of terrorism in the future (Ball). The responsibility of a person in power shouldn’t be to strike fear into the people that he is governing such that they then turn to him/her for everything, believing that he/she has the power to fix all of the things that one is concerned about. The responsibility of a person in power should instead be to keep one’s economy steady and to keep peace and unity within the nation they are governing. I truly believe that this isn’t the case with president-elect Trump, however we have no one to blame but ourselves. After all, we dictate who is put in power and who isn’t.

President-Elect Donald Trump. (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d2/Donald_Trump_August_19,_2015_(cropped).jpg)

When I was doing my research, I went from analyzing Locke’s State of Nature to trying to figure out what the responsibility of those in power should be. I could have stopped my curiosity there, however I decided to dig even further and came up with this question: how do we dictate those who get into power? On the surface, it seems as if there is an obvious answer. Many will respond, “well it’s pretty obvious. We vote.” However, this often isn’t the case. According to The New York Times, voter turnout this year fell all the way down to 58%. The voter turnout being so low can be correlated with people thinking their vote doesn’t count because of disillusionment with democracy, feeling it is corrupted and not as good as the majority of the public perceives it to be. Demographically, African American voter turnout dropped this year, however it isn’t necessarily for the reasons that I presented above. Black voter turnout may have dropped this year because most African Americans live in cities, forcing them to endure the longest lines and giving them less incentive to vote. I don’t think this is justified as a reason for not voting as often times the people that don’t vote are the ones that are most displeased with the results. For those that are unhappy with president-elect Trump, they have only themselves to blame. If one really wants a candidate to win, no matter how long the line is, one should make every effort possible to vote. When nearly half of the country doesn’t vote, it is hard for whoever the true favorite in the country is to win the election. It is our responsibility as citizens of the U.S. to dictate who will lead us for at least four years. It is our job to elect those that we feel will fulfill the ideal responsibility of a person in power. It is our job to elect the right leader for our country. I am not saying that the majority of the people in this country don’t believe Trump is the right leader, however I am saying that those that feel he isn’t had the opportunity to make sure he didn’t get in office. The beauty of our government is that we decide our future. It is our responsibility as U.S. citizens to assist in controlling our fates’ by electing who we truly we want. Our responsibility as a nation is to pick who we feel is capable of doing all of the things a person in power should be responsible for.

A powerful quote said by Wael Ghonim. (https://www.peaceproject.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/product_full/PC90_the_power_of_the_people_is_stronger_than_the_people_in_power-postcard.jpg)

After I did all of my research, I went back and looked at just how much I had learned and how much my thinking had changed. I went from believing that people should govern themselves based on morals, to then believing in our democracy. I then took that even further and looked into what the responsibilities of a person in power should be and compared it to our future person of power, PEOTUS Trump. Finally, I looked at how we dictate who gets put in power and what we, the people of a nation (specifically the U.S) are responsible for as well. I came into this paper a naive student of the topic, however I feel I’ve grown and started to understand and answer deeper meaning questions with research. The responsibility of a person in power is to keep one’s economy steady and to keep peace and unity within the nation that they are governing. More importantly, it is the citizen's responsibility to put that type of a leader in power and support them. The bottom line is, we control our own futures. It is our responsibility to make sure our government runs the way we want it to.

A short, but true and powerful statement. (http://secure.benjerry.com/files/live/sites/us/files/values/issues-we-care-about/democracy/democracy-header1.png)

Works Cited:

Ball, Molly. “Donald Trump’s Campaign is Based on Fear”, The Atlantic, 2 Sep. 2016.

Tuckness, Alex. “Locke's Political Philosophy”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

(Spring 2016 Edition), 2016.

Created By
Jake Thaw

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