Second Treatise of Government

10 Mar

Locke writes: “This, those who give their votes before they hear the debate, and have weighed the reasons on all sides, are not capable of doing. To prepare such an assembly as this, and endeavour to set up the declared abettors of his own will, for the true representatives of the people, and the law-makers of the society, is certainly as great a breach of trust… What power they ought to have in the society, who thus employ it contrary to the trust went along with it in its first institution, is easy to determine; and one cannot but see, that he, who has once attempted any such thing as this, cannot any longer be trusted.”

I find this passage amusing when looking at the current state of the American democratic process. People are dumb when it comes to politics, all too often they let judgment be clouded. Presidents are elected in office, generally, because their political affiliation is different from their predecessors. To me, that shows people don’t really care about politics. When the point of elections becomes getting back at the other side for their temporary limited control over either the executive or legislative branches of government, what is the point? This is a cyclical process and as a result it snowballs and we have, more frequently, tidal-wave elections. People put less and less faith in their government as time goes on, their leaders let them down. The reason their leaders let them down is because they place too much emphasis on election season and not enough on voting for their constituency. I feel political parties are contradictory to democracy. It should be the job of every politician to vote in accordance with how they believe their constituents would (at least the majority). Political parties often hoist up an illusion of will, as if because someone is a “Democrat” or “Republican” they believe the majority of their constituents are, and this may be the case sometimes, but definitely not always(also they believe being either a “Democrat” or an “Republican” automatically means they all hold the same values, NOT THE CASE). Because it is generally undecided voters who determine elections, and it may only be because one (politician) is viewed as the lesser of the two evils (often the case), I don’t believe this gives a politician any right to assume their constituency is either Republicans or Democrats, perhaps they have some conservative values and some liberal values (most people aren’t radical liberals or extremist conservatives).

The result is Politicians giving “their votes before they hear the debate” as Locke puts it. Seldom do members of the legislature vote against the majority of their party. This should be a red flag. Members of congress let their constituents down and are not fit to hold their positions because they care too much about pleasing fellow party members. This seems to be operationally parliamentary (as opposed to presidential) where rubbing elbows and voting obsequiously to appease others will get you ahead in your political career.

We end up with a system where politicians get elected and make it their primary concern to undo what the previous political party has done. If successful in doing so (recalling previous measures) often vast amounts of time, effort, and MONEY are consumed in the process. More effectively is the divided house/senate and/or presidency, bills that are passed may be to some degree “watered down” but at least they are passed and not likely to be trashed. Often times these sorts of compromises lead to great policy.

There is a serious lack of accountability in our legislative and executive branches, I know it is not realistic to say there is an easy fix. Adding more accountability would bog down an already overly bureaucratic system, but I feel, until we can hold our Presidents and our Congresses more accountable, it will be the banal ineffective system that forces people to lose faith in the democratic process.


Posted by on March 10, 2011 in Uncategorized


3 responses to “Second Treatise of Government

  1. andrewpoli275

    March 12, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    I definitely appreciate the passage that you found in Locke’s Second Treatise. I agree with you completely. Our political system here in the United States would be an embarrassment to Locke. Our politicians do not seem to be serving us in their best interst. Also, what I find sad is how people do not pay attention to politics except years that have a Presidential Election. Those same people then end up at the polls and have no idea what they are voting for. Our entire political system is in disorder.

  2. chan6435

    March 13, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    I’m not entirely convinced that the current political system is ineffective I think the system now maybe is the result of a different generation, a generation prone to intense conflict and rebuttal. However, there are some generations that have created greater change because of compromise or because of commitment to ideals. I don’t think that the problem is political, I think it is societal.

  3. americansheepdog

    March 15, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    I agree. The problem lies with the voters. They are uneducated, uninformed and easily manipulated. How is a politician supposed to vote with what the people want, when the voters don’t even know what they themselves want. At least the politicians make it clear what they are going to vote for by selecting party lines, that’s a lot more than can be said of the local populace! I mean come on, every election some idiot voter, some individual who has been given a say in our government, puts Mickey Mouse down for president! And the real kicker is that they actually have to be counted as legitimate votes by the election judges! Stupid things like this happen in every polling place, and there’s always more than one person who puts these crazy answers down. At least we can fire the politicians, too bad we can’t do the same for some of the voters!

    Winston Churchill- “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”


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