Conservative Hideout 2.0 Rotating Header Image

Are we Capable of Self-governance Anymore?


Thomas Jefferson once said, “Man is capable of living in society, governing itself by laws self-imposed, and securing to its members the enjoyment of life, liberty, property, and peace.”

Lately I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking on the topic of self-governance and I’m beginning to wonder if we’re capable of self-governance anymore. It you ask the five different people what self-governance means to them you will get five different answers.  The most common answer I hear is that self-governance means the people set up our own form of government to be governed by.  This response is not only incomplete but totally misses the mark.  Self-governance is much more than setting up a form of government and a system of laws to govern us; it’s about the inalienable rights we’re all born with and understanding that each of us is sovereign with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Governments, if deemed necessary are instituted to secure the blessings of these rights.  Have we forgotten this basic truth about the nature of self-governance and the role government plays in our lives?  By what I’m seeing these days the answer is yes.

Somewhere along the way in this great experiment we call America many of our citizens have become apathetic about liberty and self-governance.  They’re ok with the government whether on the state or federal level telling them what they can eat, what permits they need to set up a lemon-aide stand, what they can build on their own property, how much electricity they should be using, where they can hunt and fish, what kind of car they should buy and so on.  Government is the first entity they look to for solutions when a natural disaster occurs or when we experience a major economic downturn.  They look for the FEMA trailers or economic safeguards to give them peace of mind.  In fact people appear to be perfectly ok with having their lives completely regulated.  It absolves them from taking any personal responsibility for their actions and codifies everything they do in a nice of little rule book. It gives them a sense of security in an ever changing environment.

The problem is our lives have become so regulated and so managed by governments on the state and federal level our choices are now becoming limited as more and more regulations are imposed on us by politicians who feel it’s their duty to make life safer for all us. They believe they have some sort misguided responsibility to watch over us like children because we cannot be trusted to make to right choices or the choices they want us to make.  Let’s face it we are no longer practicing self-governance under these rules of engagement.  We’re living under what Mark Levin calls a “soft tyranny.” This is not the kind of self-governance our Founders were speaking of in their writings.

The Founders were greatly influenced by number of writings by noted philosophers of the period. They held in high regard British philosopher John Locke.  Locke was a staunch proponent of the concept of Natural Law and Natural Rights.  He believed that we are all the property of God and as such each of us is born with natural rights that are granted by God.  They included the rights of life, liberty, health and property. They are rights that we have in our natural state before any type of government is instituted.  All people from all walks of life share in these rights equally. Locke also believed that the individual was sovereign and was capable of self-governing their actions because people were generally good to each other in their natural state.  The only purpose for creating governmental institutions was to ensure these rights were secured for all people and individual sovereignty was not infringed upon.  Any government encroachment on these rights or individual sovereignty was viewed as an unacceptable condition and could not be tolerated.  This was one of the main reasons behind the constitution.  In fact Patrick Henry stated it best when he said “The Constitutionis not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.”

How is it that this basic truth about self-governance is as foreign to the average citizen as calculus is to me? It doesn’t take a PhD in American History to find this information.  It is readily available to all on the internet.   I believe it’s because many people have become apathetic about both liberty and self-governance and would rather surrender their liberties to the government for the sake of some type of security.  It’s easier this way.  The life of a slave requires very little thinking.  You do as you are told and hope by the end of the day there’s enough left over to pay the bills and put food on the table.  This is rapidly becoming the American reality for many people; depending on the scraps the government throws our way.  How sad is that?

My fear is the more people become dependent on the government the less desire they will have to break free from this self-imposed slavery.  The government will continue to regulate every aspect of our lives and we will forget how to govern ourselves.  This is the end goal of the progressive left.  Create a class of non-thinking citizens who are dependent on the government for their basic needs.  It allows the government to grant and take away rights as they see fit and it destroys the sovereign individual.  This is the vision the progressive left has for America and each of us.  Until we get back to the basics and understand our rights are inalienable and nonnegotiable we will continue to march down the path towards tyranny.  And for me this is completely unacceptable.

We need to wake up and reestablish the constitution as the law of the land and restrain government as it once was in the past.  If we fail our children will be slaves of the state and will never taste the sweetness of liberty.

Liberty forever, freedom for all!

Original Post: The Sentry Journal

  • Not only have we grown used to government intrusion in our lives, as a people, Americans have accepted that intrusion as some kind of normal.

    Good post.

    • Thanks AOW. People have indeed become comfortable with big government stepping in to try in solve their problem. It easier and doesn’t require any critical thinking to solve our problem. Instead people are ok with flawed solutions that the government throws a lot of money at.

  • Ema Nymton


    Not sure where you live but in USA, the law of the land is USA Constitution. The people’s governments still are of the people, by the people, and for the people under the Constitution.

    Our government is not a separate entity, it is us. The people at the tax office, drivers’ license office, ranger parks, police/fire departments are our neighbors, friends, and us. The people carry our government with us all the time, we govern ourselves naturally, it is an integral part of us (and US).

    We the people apply rules and regulations over ourselves. Basically in a civilized society, it is called law and order; law and order that ‘we the people’ choose to live by.

    It is not an either/or situation. Freedom and liberty are assured and protected by the people’s Constitution in USA.

    In the end, the Founding Fathers would not be as down on USA as you seem to be.

    Ema Nymton

    • Thanks for that really nice comment. And, it would all be true, if our federal government actually followed the Constitution.

    • You seem to be missing the point of the article. It’s about self-governance and our current understanding of it as compared to the Founders. We the people do not view self-governance in a way that treats the individual as sovereign as the Founders did and this is part of the problem in regards to our government overstepping their constitutional authority. If we the people cannot grasp the concept that self-governance is related to natural rights and the sovereign individual then we’re going to allow these infringements, sacrificing our liberty for security. And that is a problem.

  • As I think back on it, didn’t it start with our “crapper”? telling us many years ago how much water we could use to flush. How symbolic. Then the lightbulb– allowing us to only “see” so much. The symbolism is interesting indeed.

    • You know I think you are right Bunker. Regulating the container size to conserve water. This was the foot in the door and now look how far they have reached. It’s very sad that people just don’t understand what self-governance is about.

  • What a remarkable and sadly true article. Most Americans do believe that what our government, both state and federal, has become is normal and they believe the entitlements (including social security and Medicare) are rights that they deserve. This coupled with all the other things you mentioned in your article have indeed created a willingly enslaved nation. But then again, this is what progressives have been working towards for well over a century in this country.

    • I worry about the future we are making for our children and choices we are taking away from them because many refuse to embrace liberty. What will America look like 30 years from now? It truly frightens me.