Perhaps the most widely discussed topic, aside from celebrities and the weather, politics is also one of the most volatile. Its subjects are often involved in as much scandal as the former, and its geography changes as quickly as the latter. Politicians and their business are important because they make up the government. “What should government do?” and “How should government function?” are questions which will evoke drastically different answers depending on the worldview of the one asked. From one conservative view, government is an institution of authority set forth by God, therefore deserving of respect, if not obedience, and is useful for upholding the law and protecting its citizens.
God determines how a government should be run, and who should run it. Alternative positions claim either that the strongest have a right to rule, based on their strength, or that the ruling body has authority by the consent of the ruled. Machiavelli found the former to be completely natural, and even went so far as to say that a ruler “must not have any other object nor any other thought, nor must he take anything as his profession but war, […] because that is the only profession which benefits one who commands” (221). Many nations through all ages have been ruled by a conqueror, someone who comes in and takes control by force. In order to maintain this new authority, the conqueror needs to use his power and invoke fear to his advantage. For as Machiavelli goes on to say, it is “not reasonable for an armed man to obey and unarmed man willingly,” because it is “impossible for them to work well together” (Machiavelli 222). On the surface, this is true. People would not stand by and let someone come in and take over if they had the means to defend themselves. However, Machiavelli is mistaking the means for the cause. God is the one who endowed the strong with strength. He has used countless subjugators to bring His people to submission and repentance, and many tyrants to chastise them for their unfaithfulness. Nonetheless, in the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson argued that, “A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free People” (264). He and the other founding fathers believed that “Governments are instituted among men” “to secure [the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness]” (Jefferson 262), and that they
deriv[e] their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness (Jefferson 262).
While this system of rule by consent seems to be most fair and desirable, it presupposes that the wisdom of man takes precedence over the wisdom of God. ...