Rousseau and The Republican Party
The Republican Party, since its first convention in Michigan in 1854, has had a philosophy that has remained relatively unchanged. Its oath entices Americans to believe that "good government is based on the individual and that each person's ability, dignity, freedom and responsibility must be honored and recognized"
In this essay, I will examine the Republican's main philosophies and will describe how Rousseau would agree or disagree with their position. I will be using the Republican Platform of 1996 to aid in my discussion. Ideas that will be of focus will be the role of the government, property rights, and freedom of the individual.
The Role of the Government
"We are the party of small, responsible and efficient government... We therefore assert the power of the American people over government, rather than the other way around".
The view of the Republicans across the Nation is that the role of government should be kept to a minimum. In this section, I will discuss certain views of the Party and how they would be accepted or rejected by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The Republican notion has been that less government is better. Rousseau's notion was that of extrication. He states that the fundamental political problem is "to find a form of association that defends and protects the person and the goods of each associate with all the common force, and by means of which each one uniting with all, nevertheless obeys only himself and remains as free as before" (Cahn, 367). The Republicans would agree with Rousseau's idea. They (Republican Party) state that the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution should be the basis for the role of government. The Tenth Amendment states:
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 its people.
Republicans, while holding the majority in both the House and Senate have taken it upon themselves to apply all laws to Congress, so that those who make the rules have to live by them. Rousseau agrees in respect that no association should be above the laws it makes. In his treatise entitled Of the Social contract or Principles of Political Right, Rousseau states, "Indeed, each individual may, as a man, have a particular will contrary to, or divergent from, the general will which he may have as a citizen" (Cahn, 426). What Rousseau is suggesting is that a person may feel one way, but he/she must act in accordance with the general will of his/her fellow citizens. The Republicans would insist that the proper role of the Government is to provide only what can be considered critical functions that can't be preformed by individuals or private organizations; and that the best government is that which governs least. They plan to streamline the government and make it more effective by competition and privatization....