1. All men are endowed by God with unalienable rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I must stress that these rights are God-given and are not distributed or granted to us by the government.
- "We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness... " Declaration of Independence
- "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." Amendment IX
- "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Amendment X
2. Men cede to government some of their natural rights in order to give government its powers. Government only has the powers given it by the people.
- "...governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed... " Declaration of Independence
- "Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers." The Federalist #2
3. Our government's role is to secure our unalienable rights.
- "...all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men..." Declaration of Independence
- "Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice, without constraint." The Federalist #15
- "A wise and frugal government...shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement...This is the sum of good government." Thomas Jefferson (1st Inaugural Address)
4. Our government is accountable to the people and the people are to hold the government in check.
- "In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government..." The Federalist #51
Based on these and other writings from our founding fathers, I am of the firm conviction that our government was designed to be a small and limited government. Our founders did not see a government that dispensed our every need. They saw our government as securing our rights as individuals to pursue life, liberty and happiness.
Cross-posted at www.backtotheconstitution.org