Solutions built on America’s founding principles are every citizen’s responsibility
America is more than just a place—it is an ideal and a set of principles. In America, government exists for and with the consent of the people—a radical concept in the beginning that the founders knew would require informed and responsible citizens. American citizens who enjoy the privileges of a free society must play a role in keeping the nation’s ideals of freedom on course.
Voting is certainly an important part of every American citizen’s responsibility. But vigilant citizens will also speak out when elected leaders stray from the founding principles. Every government action can, and must, be measured against those principles. That’s why it is so important for citizens to understand those principles and how our Constitution applies them to define the role of government. The principles are not complicated:
Americans believe that all people are equally free by nature—each has a free mind, and each has an equal right to freedom. That means we are all born with the same opportunity, but not that we will necessarily achieve the same outcomes in life. Protecting these rights is a primary responsibility of government.
Our most important rights are inherent and “unalienable” because they don’t come from government. There are certain natural rights that all people are born with, such as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Every human has equal rights, and should be treated as an equal individual, not as a member of a special group.
The American ideal is based on a belief that common people can govern themselves. People can take care of their own needs, not remain always dependent upon a king, a government, or anyone else to provide for themselves and their families.
Americans believe in limited government precisely because they believe in self government. The Constitution limits the powers of government and reserves to the people most power over their daily lives. Thomas Jefferson wrote “The policy of the federal government is to leave its citizens free, neither aiding nor restraining them in their pursuits.”
America is a nation of laws, not men. We are not governed by elites, but by rules voluntarily adopted by the people. No government official and no citizen is above the law or immune from its reach.
America’s economic system is based on private ownership of property and businesses, and on the ability of free people to be in whatever business they want. No government decides what jobs fit particular individuals, and we do not require government permission to work.
Americans believe in open and free trade, where individuals and businesses may buy from, and sell to, whomever they wish. The role of government is to protect free markets against unfair competition or trade practices that threaten freedom. Government does not exist for picking winners and losers in the economy, and Americans must always be vigilant against such attempts.
Protection of private property is among the most important of America’s founding principles. There are only a few exceptions designed to keep people from damaging their neighbors or communities, but in general governments may not dictate what people can and cannot do in their own homes and businesses, nor prevent the full enjoyment of one’s private property.
The first responsibility of government is to protect its citizens against foreign and domestic enemies. That includes enemy armies, terrorists, and local criminals alike. The Constitution guarantees the right to be secure in your homes and communities. We give the government extraordinary powers when under such threats, so we must also guard carefully against the abuse of such power.