THE PROPER ROLE OF GOVERNMENT (Republican Party Platform)
“We believe government properly exists by the consent of the governed and must be restrained from intruding into the freedoms of its citizens. The function of government is not to grant rights, but to protect the unalienable, God-given rights of life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.”
What are the origins of our freedoms we have come to know as human rights? Rights are either God-given as part of the divine plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. Reason, necessity, tradition, and religious convictions all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights. Because, if we accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corollary that they can be denied by government...
Since God created us with certain inalienable rights and we, in turn, created government to help secure and safeguard those rights, it follows that humans are superior to the creature which they created. Humans are superior to government and should remain master over it, not the other way around. Even the nonbeliever can appreciate the logic of this relationship.
A government is nothing more or less than a relatively small group of citizens who have been hired, in a sense, by the rest of us to perform certain functions and discharge certain responsibilities which have been authorized. The government itself has no innate power or privilege to do anything. Its only source of authority and power is from the people who created it.
Keep in mind that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they themselves have. They cannot give that which they do not possess.
In a primitive state, there is no doubt that each person would be justified in using force, if necessary, to defend himself/herself against physical harm, against theft of the fruits of his/her labor, and against enslavement by another.
Indeed, the early pioneers found that a great deal of their time and energy was being spent defending themselves, their property, and their liberty. For humans to prosper, they cannot afford to spend their time constantly guarding their family, their fields, and their property against attack and theft. When folks join together with their neighbors and hire a sheriff, government is born. The individual citizens delegate to the sheriff their unquestionable right to protect themselves. The sheriff now does for them only that which they had a right to do for themselves—nothing more.
But suppose pioneer “A” wants another horse for his wagon. He doesn’t have the money to buy one, but since pioneer “B” has an extra horse, he decides that he is entitled to share in his neighbor’s good fortune. Is he entitled to take his neighbor’s horse? Obviously not! If his neighbor wishes to give it or lend it, that is another question. But so long as pioneer “B” wishes to keep his property, pioneer “A” has no just claim to it.
If “A” has no proper power to take “B’s” property, can he delegate any such power to the sheriff? No. Even if everyone in the community desires that “B” give his extra horse to “A,” they have no right individually or collectively to force him to do it. They cannot delegate a power they themselves do not have. The proper function of government is limited only to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act. By deriving its just powers from the governed, government becomes primarily a mechanism for defense against bodily harm, theft, and involuntary servitude. It cannot claim the power to redistribute the wealth or force reluctant citizens to get a Jab or perform acts of charity against their will. Government is created by men/women. No man or woman can delegate a power that he or she does not possess. The creature cannot exceed the creator. We cannot exceed God, our creator…and government cannot exceed us, its creator. (Ezra Taft Benson, 1976)