Purposes Of Government

Review of state action by the national judiciary follows naturally from the provisions of the Constitution. Madison and some other Framers believed that infringements of rights were more likely to arise from state action than national action, in large part due to the broad powers of the states over the day-to-day affairs of the people. In short, Madison recognized that preserving the states as important political entities within the larger constitutional system would bring risks as well as benefits. It is instructive that Madison lobbied unsuccessfully during the congressional debates on the Bill of Rights for a constitutional provision or “amendment” that would specifically restrain the authority of the states to interfere with freedom of the press and freedom of conscience. The purpose of government, then, is to shape and create individuals.

The Black Robed Regiment, a backhanded reference to the black robes they wore, was the way the British referred to the courageous and patriotic American clergy during the Founding Era. As individuals we are simply not the people that we ought to be. Also, we all desire to achieve our ends with as little effort as possible.

The government also institutes the civil justice system as a mechanism citizens can use to settle disputes, another key component in maintaining order and security. A democratic government also provides protection against more intangible crimes, such as the violation of individuals’ civil rights. In the United States, these rights, such as freedom of speech and the press, as well as individual liberties, are constitutionally protected by the Bill of Rights. On the federal level, actual protection is provided through the Department of Justice.

Establish LawsMaintain Order and SecurityProtect from External Threats Provide for the General WelfareGovernment has the legitimate authority to institute laws that all people must follow; government also has the authority to punish those who break the law. If the powers of the national government had to be properly structured or arranged to achieve the objectives of the leading Founders, so the division of powers between the national government and the states had to be properly arranged as well. The division under the Articles of Confederation favored the states to a degree that worked against the promotion of the “safety and happiness” of the American people.

As an analyst, my job is to help policymakers conceptualize the tradeoffs between competing goals. Most people would agree that the government should work to grow the economy, reduce poverty and inequality, and help its citizens live more free, meaningful lives. Because citizens busily pursuing their own happiness are too distracted or disinterested to notice when privileged groups shape the government to serve their purposes. The government seeks to balance the interests of the individual with the interests of the community.