The Declaration of Independence maintained that the purpose of government is to protect their “unalienable rights,” chief among them being “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. ” As such, government is merely an institution crafted by the people, whose existence is entirely contingent upon the people it is designed to serve towards these ends. Therefore it is the responsibility of citizens to be ever vigilant of this government because the Declaration explicitly states that its authority comes from “the consent of the governed.
” Should this government prove to be dysfunctional with regards to the functions it was created for, it becomes the right of these ‘governed’ to abolish the government and institute a new one in its place that fulfills the abovementioned mandate of protecting those rights. It is this fundamental conception of the function of government that maintains relevance in the 21st century moreso, as has been said ad infinitum ad nauseum, in the wake of 9/11.
In an attempt to address the security of the nation-space, the government has taken measures that have effectively diminished personal liberties if not curtailed them entirely. As such, the functions of the government have increasingly turned towards protection of the state for its own sake, at the expense of the inalienable rights of citizens. In effect, the government leans towards self-preservation, towards a rigid but abstract notion of patriotism and nationalism and away from empowering those institutions under its jurisdiction whose primary aim is the self-fulfillment of its citizens.
More of the budget is geared away from citizen welfare and more towards the military and state controls. This is not to suggest that the government must be abolished with the sheer force of tumultuous revolt, but rather that citizens recognize this disheartening trend and take action to reorient it back towards the purposes it was designed for in the first place. It is through re-awakening interactions that make for a healthy democracy, including the ballot box and beyond it in critical discourse.