What is the government, exactly? You hear about it all the time. “The government did this!… the government did that!” It’s almost like we think of THE GOVERNMENT as one person who has their hand in everything and is constantly creating problems. 

And although it’s true that the government has a hand in virtually every aspect of our lives, that’s not how it should be. The government isn’t this vague, all-powerful being that controls our lives. In fact, I think the term the government is often misused, because not only is government composed of many individuals, but there are many different governments, starting with you. 

You are the government of yourself. Nobody has as much control over yourself as you do, and nobody knows you as well as you do (except maybe God). Nobody has a greater right to make decisions for you than YOU. Individuals and families are the foundation of any government. They are the most powerful government out there, because nobody has more right to control individuals and families than those very individuals and families. 

So why do we even have a government if individuals and families are capable of governing themselves? The problem is, people aren’t perfect. In fact, they are very imperfect. What happens when one person decides they want their neighbor’s car? Turns out, all they have to do is have bigger guns than their neighbor, and the mustang is theirs! That’s where the next level of government comes in: the community. There are some problems that can’t be handled on an individual level, so people living in the same area get together and elect people to protect the rights of those in their community. They give their community government power to use force to protect their rights that can’t be handled on an individual level. When someone steals or kills, the offender is caught and punished on a community level. 

Between individuals and community governments, there are almost no problems that can’t be resolved. There’s a few exceptions, though. What happens when problems arise involving multiple communities? What if one community decides to invade another community? There are so many communities, so things can get chaotic. That’s where a state or provincial government comes in. The state government governs a state, or a large area of land that includes hundreds or thousands of communities. The state only handles problems that can’t be handled by communities or individuals. This might include land management, commerce, and similar issues. 

The highest level of government, and the one with the least power is the federal or national government, which governs a whole country. In my opinion, the only reasons we have a federal government is to handle international affairs such as trade and protection from invasions, and handle disputes between the states. 

Looking through the lens of the Declaration of Independence, we can see that the proper role of government is to protect the life, liberty, and property of the people. And looking through the lens of the constitution, the vertical separation of powers between the federal, state, community, and individual levels is necessary to keep the government inside its proper role. 

If something is being done by one level of government that could be done by a lower level, that thing is not the proper role of government. If the federal government is trying to care for the poor by redistributing the wealth across the whole nation, when the job of caring for the poor could be done at an individual or community level, then the federal government is operating outside of its power, which raises the question, what happens when a government oversteps its bounds? 

The Declaration of Independence tells us that when a government becomes destructive of life, liberty, or property, it is the right and the duty of the people to alter or abolish it. When the government becomes tyrannical in any way, the people have the unconditional right to change that, whether it be altering the law, electing new officials, or in extreme cases, rebelling. 

That’s what happened in the American Revolution. The people (or at least, enough of them) decided that the only way to secure their rights was to rebel against the rule of Great Britain. We often discount this as something trivial, but if you really think about what the patriots were doing when they took up arms against their mother country, you realize that this was no small thing. 

Is our country to the point where we’re ready to take up arms against an oppressive government? Maybe not, but regardless of what your stance is on government or politics, it is vital to be aware of the extent to which the government has overstepped its legal bounds. It is most certainly past the time to sit and idly watch the government take control of everything. The power granted to governments is limited, and governing bodies across our country need to be reminded of that fact. Now is the time for action. Make your voice heard, and don’t trade true principles of freedom for popular opinions. Together, we can be a force for good and work to abolish laws that put governments outside of their proper role.