Government and Representation

Government must represent the people, and must respond to the will of the people. The United States originated from the roots of Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan and its concepts of natural rights and a government’s purpose as an enormous and powerful entity genuflected to the will of the people. Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and others understood government as a social contract between the governed and a state which would take some of their natural rights in trust in order to protect those other natural rights.

This theory of popular sovereignty requires government to bend to the will of the people. The very processes of maintaining government must respond to the overall sentiment of the governed. A representative government passes the right to self-govern into the trusted hands of elites who better understand both the will of their constituencies and the practical and technical matters of government, providing great advantages so long as the selection of these elites is itself responsive to that will.

In this way, the effectiveness of government and representation rely heavily on the structure of government, its election processes, and its resistance to structural manipulation by those temporarily in power.