Have we created a modern government that agrees with the "state of nature?"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The state of nature that Locke outlines in his work is one in which reason-ability reigns supreme in ensuring that there is a clear articulation and distillation of responsibility between citizens and their government.  To this extent, the modern Constitution of the United States represents this state of nature.  The Constitution clearly specifies powers that the government possesses, powers that the state government holds, and powers that the people have in this process.  There is a clear articulation of this condition, and this is reflective of the type of natural state that Locke envisions.  I think that the principles of popular sovereignty and republicanism that help to form the modern Constitution also help to bring out Locke's political state of nature.  For Locke, it becomes clear that if individuals feel their government no longer represents their political wishes, it can rescind its consent of it and remove it from office.  In this, the Constitutional principle of popular sovereignty where citizens have a voice in their government and republicanism where elected representatives carry out the will of the people help to illuminate Locke's political design whereby government is the political extension of the people and their will.

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