The Incompatibility of Individualism and Representative Government

While the American political system is primarily designed to affirm individual sovereignty, making elected officials a channel of private interests divorces individuals from their rights. The Selfishness Inherent to the System The American political system is often praised for holding affirmation of individual sovereignty as its primary value. Securing the rights of the individual against the aggression of other actors—including organs of the government itself—is the unipolar goal of government. All the diverse functions of…

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Technology and the New State of Nature

Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from man.” — Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead I. The Philosophies of Nature and the State Society, social contract theorists argue, breeds security. By establishing a government, one injects some rigidity into the civic landscape. In the untamed wilds of anarchic space, man is free to transgress…

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Government As Panopticon

Trump’s State of the Union suggests there are no societal ills outside the bounds of federal power. During Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, President Trump evoked the spirit of the Founding Fathers and their quest to create a government that, by placing strictures upon its actions, secured tangible, exerciseable freedom for its people. “America,” the president declared, “was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination, and control.” But these lofty…

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Conscience and the Law

Your conscience is your exclusive property. It’s the voice in your head, the feeling in your gut. It is an entity entirely internal to you. The warning bells it sounds when choices likely to lead to bad ends are near are a product of the workings of your mind. Morality is a product of your intellection; it is up to you to define right and wrong for yourself and up to you to determine in…

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A Crisis of the Soul

American politics is anthropomorphized: we speak of the polity as “the body politic,” as one living and wholistic organism. Politicians appeal to “we,” inveigling themselves into constituencies and interest groups. Legislators view law as a type of nourishment for the body politic, using government power not as a check upon infringement of the rights of the citizenry—including those done by government itself—but as a force to improve the lots of their peoples’ lives. If the…

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Trump’s Border Wall Shutdown Is About Personality, Not Principle

Once the Freedom Caucus was a faction of principled intransigents;they fought tooth and nail against the initial healthcare overhaul bill proposed by newly-inaugurated President Trump because it did not deliver on the promise of full repeal GOP officials had long made to their voters. This resistance was the coup de grâce for a slipshod policy-making process: the Affordable Healthcare Act (AHCA) not only betrayed a Republican campaign rallying cry that was eight years in the…

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Ranked-Choice Voting Does Not Improve Representation

The more factions there are in a political contest, the more likely candidates with at least some positions in common are to band together to form a coalition. This is a principle of participatory democracy. Imagine there are 15 candidates competing for a seat on a town council. Seemingly, it should be easy to gain the roughly 6.8% needed to become the plurality winner; this is a tiny fraction of the voting public. However, voters…

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