America is much more than a geographical fact. It is a political and moral fact - the first community in which men set out in principle to institutionalize freedom, responsible government, and human equality.
- Adlai Stevenson -

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Resolving the Human Predicament.

As the Founding Fathers contemplated a solution to the British oppression, they had to consider many things. For one they first had to agree that there was a problem. Then they had to realize that all the past attempts at a functioning Government have been essentially failures. The Founding Fathers had to figure out how to receive the benefits of a government without falling into the consequences of bad government.

The Founding Fathers had to wrestle with the idea of an ideal government and a real government. I imagine that each of colonists had an idea of what their perfect government would be. In class we discussed that a perfect government would provide public order, fair and reasonable laws and punishments, respect, and value of citizens. However, in the real world, governments have been mostly tyrannical, oppressive and corrupt. So the Founding Fathers had to come up with a government that would stay away from the negative aspects and try to reach the positive aspects.

The Founding Fathers liked the idea of Sovereignty. Sovereignty is all about who had the final say -- it is the supreme power. While the Founding Fathers felt that this was an important idea they worried that giving a single person such great power would cause problems. In class we discussed a quote “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  The Founding Fathers had to deal with that exact idea, how to have a functioning government without giving absolute power to one person.

It has been said that the human predicament is an ongoing cycle where tyranny starts a revolution that becomes an anarchy leading into competing groups and right back to tyranny. The Founding Fathers how to figure out how to resolve this ever-present problem. Their main focuses were government, freedom and human nature. Their main goal was to balance each of these issues so one doesn’t override another.

As they searched to find a way to balance the issues, they contemplated many different forms of government throughout history, really focusing on four major ideas. The first was the idea of Autocracy. Autocracy is a form of a dictatorship government. In Autocracy, rulers believe people are like children who need control. It is a form of government where the ruler has ultimate power and believes control is absolutely critical.

The second from of government they considered was Classic Republicanism. Classic Republicanism comes from classical antiquity.  It is a form of government where the rulers believe humans aren’t born corrupt. However, they do believe humans are corruptible. So in this government people believed that if they just taught people proper values and morals then they won’t have to govern people because they will make the right decisions on their own.

Next the Founding Fathers considered the idea of Libertarianism. Libertarianism is a theory in politics that basically allows for the most personal liberty. In Libertarianism, the idea is that is people are basically good then the best government is the one that governs the least. Within the theory people believe that since people are basically good they know what is right and wrong and they don’t need rulers restricting them. However, the Founding Fathers believed that since not every human is basically good this idea would cause problems.

The final idea the Founding Fathers considered is Liberalism. In Liberalism the belief is that human beings are essentially good but they could use a little help from the government to make things even better. This little push from the government would help unleash peoples potential. Liberalists believe that people should inhibit personal liberty and benefit from the help of the government.

From each of these ideas the Founding Fathers found good ideas and solid points. They wanted to find a way to incorporate the good idea from each of these forms of government into a new kind of government. The Founding Fathers alsothought the essential elements of a government were structure, participation, law, custom and tradition, moral sense and leadership. They especially believed that no person should be above the law.

In the end, the Founding Fathers’ basic goal was the tackle the problem of government once and for all. They wanted to solve the issue and prevent it from falling apart yet again and in order to do that they had to make the government adjustable.

Now we have the United States of America and a Democracy built upon all these ideas. We have laws that govern even the highest political powers. We don’t give a single person ultimate power. Overall government, freedom, liberty and human nature are all balanced to a point where one doesn’t control another. And because our government is flexible laws are being changed every day. Thus we can prevent any major disputes in the future. When it comes down to it, it seems like the Founding Fathers truly created a successful government. 

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