The Role of Government in a Democracy?

It occurs to me that, in a democracy, the role of the politician and the government is not to be gatekeepers of society but rather to provide for the needs of the people as they demonstrate that need.

As a principle, it is not for politicians to save people from themselves, nor to maintain a status quo. It is for politicians to ensure that no expression of a need of one group forces any other person or group to forgo their need or perform an action against their will, when the need of the latter does not prevent the expression of the need of the others. For example, the need to hold certain beliefs cannot over-ride another’s need to hold differing beliefs, and neither beliefs can over-ride another’s need to live their life fully;  the need to have a full life cannot over-ride the need for others to appropriate levels of sleep; the need to have money cannot over-ride the need of others to ownership.

Needs may even be categorised according to importance. Water, food, shelter and clothing against elements, and sleep because of their absolute importance to survival, must surely rank first, regardless of any other needs of any other person or group. Occupation, purpose, education, freedom and agency might rank as second and of more importance to those needs that ranks third or fourth or fifth, to get married or have a partner for life; to have the best entertainments, to build huge reserves of wealth.

We tend to call these needs “RIGHTS” but in doing so we often fail to recognise the levels of importance, projecting all needs onto a ‘rights’ banner. While I might concur that level 1 and 2 needs are indeed “Rights” in the sense that a ‘right’ is a need without which one cannot function adequately in society. I cannot see that level 3, 4, or 5 needs are, in any way “RIGHTS”.

Otherwise, given that a request for the fulfillment of a need is made of government, the governments first role is to ascertain the consequences for others of fulfilling that request. Once the consequences are ascertained, the second role is to resolve the conflicting interests. The third role is to write a law that provides and protects the access of the supplicants to the resolution of their need, and delimits the expression of that need or other’s need as relevant to prevent that expression being harmful or impossible to fulfill.

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