The Purpose Of Government

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.

The rest is distributed as political favors to a select few at the expense of the many. Governments provide a variety of services to promote the general welfare of their people, though the nature and extent of these programs varies greatly depending on the values of the society. All governments have the purposes of establishing laws, providing order and security, protecting their people from external threats, and providing for the general welfare. Securing fundamental individual rights, as well as the rights of the people as a whole to govern themselves through consent is the principal object of the republic envisioned by the Founders like James Madison, James Wilson, Alexander Hamilton, and George Mason. We find in Federalist No. 10 , however, another characterization of what Madison calls the “first object” of government that is worthy of more consideration than it generally receives.

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.

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.

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.