Though it is true that much of Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" lays out an argument for why the American colonies need to break from Britain's control, he does make some philosophical arguments about governing that have continued relevance. For example:
Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow into oppressions. Expedience and right are different things. When the calamities of America required a consultation, there was no method so ready, or at that time so proper, as to appoint persons from the several Houses of Assembly for that purpose; and the wisdom with which they have proceeded hath preserved this continent from ruin. But as it is more than probable that we shall never be without a Congress, every well wisher to good order, must own, that the mode for choosing members of that body, deserves consideration. And I put it as a question to those, who make a study of mankind, whether representation and election is not too great a power for one and the same body of men to possess? When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember, that virtue is not hereditary.
Paine is making a point that the manner and method of choosing elected officials will require careful consideration. His language and idea in this passage is still relevant. Many people in America believe that the federal government has long been populated with career politicians, Washington insiders, and political appointees who have few qualifications for the important posts that they fill.
The electoral college—the body that elects the president of the United States every four years—is a controversial system in the minds of many. In fact, questions frequently arises as to why citizens should bother to vote in the general election; people are in actuality voting for their candidate's electors. And the fact that the number of electors varies in each state and that not all states handle the popular vote in the same way is seen as undemocratic by critics of the electoral college. Paine did not specifically foresee the controversy of the electoral college, of course, but he did raise the question of the need for the voices of the people to be heard in a truly representative democracy.