Just How Centralized Is Our Government?

The modern Leviathan? Hobbes thinks not!

The modern Leviathan? Hobbes thinks not!

Midterm elections just happened and the outcome has kept government on my mind. More specifically, the role of government in our lives and the amount of power it really has. We’ve heard it all before – the government in America has ballooned to a totalitarian and dictatorial power machine. The federal government is effectively breaking its Social Contract with the American people by expanding its influence and infringing upon our fundamental freedoms. It’s a view that has been popularized by radical media from both sides of the political spectrum in recent years. Unfortunately, despite all my brooding over the current congress, even I can’t draw the conclusion that it’ll ruin everything our government stands for simply because it just doesn’t have the power to do so.

Regardless of which Social Contract Theory our government is based on, all three (Locke, Rousseau, and Hobbes) require a forfeit of freedoms. The way Social Contract theories are set up, we give up our freedoms (whether inherently or voluntarily) for certain benefits like property, freedom, justice, and protection. According to the Social Contracts- that’s just the way governments are set up.

However, even the expert and main proponent of absolutist theories would disagree with these claims. According to Hobbes and Leviathan, our government could not be farther from the absolutism that Hobbes believes would achieve ultimate efficiency and productivity. In fact, Hobbes would most likely view our government as a prime example of why absolutism is the best form of government. From a hobbesian view, the United States government is not only inefficient, but disorganized and nearly self-destructive. Our last two sessions of Congress hold records for being the most unproductive and passing the least amount of legislation in recent history. Our right-wing conservatives took a law to court over 50 times, attempting to deny its legitimacy. Our House of Representatives refused to renew a budget plan over the same law, which had been ruled into legitimacy over 50 times, effectively managing to shut down our entire federal government for 16 days. Our Republican party is threatening to sue our President  for the amount of executive orders he’s issued – which is arguably a part of his job.

Essentially, according to the master of monarchs himself, our government could not be farther from the efficiency and cohesiveness that a monarchy could achieve. Arguably, Hobbes would view the United States government as proof of the necessity of absolute power and a streamlined government in a nation.

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