Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and cohost of the Perspectives with Bryan and Kate on Fox News 1450 AM. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
Now that the state legislature has convened, lawmakers have 45 hectic days to conduct business on behalf of the voters who elected them.
Typically, only those who have a vested concern in a particular issue or piece of legislation tend to stay abreast of what their legislators are doing. Many of us are too busy with our own lives to pay strict attention to what is taking place during the legislative session.
We sometimes excuse ourselves from staying better informed by telling ourselves, “That’s what we elect our legislators to do!” But our deliberate indifference demonstrates a remarkable lack of understanding regarding the proper role of government in our lives. It also opens the door to legislative mischief.
A good example of this is the seemingly perennial anti-discrimination bill that seeks to impose a statewide standard of acceptable opinions towards homosexuality. What masquerades as a means of promoting civil behavior toward one another is, in reality, a legal tool to hammer dissenters into submission.
Reasonable people can disagree on the acceptability of a specific behavior, but this measure’s proponents are promoting a dangerous fallacy that the outcome they seek is dependent upon legislation.
The late Joseph Sobran explains, “This fallacy gives political leaders a stature they don’t deserve. What makes life tolerable in America is the simple fact that most people want to be civil, in the full sense of that underrated word. ”
Forcing a one-size-fits-all solution upon an entire state implies that the citizens of Utah are incapable of forming their own attitudes regarding their freedom of association. Worse yet, it implies that those in power know what’s best for us.
We must remember that any question requiring a solution will have a right answer and a wrong answer. The vast majority of questions that will be placed before our elected representatives must first be considered in the context of whether it corresponds with the correct role of that particular governmental body.
The plain truth is that not everything depends upon legislation.
It was once broadly understood that government’s role was to secure and protect the unalienable rights with which “all men are endowed by their Creator” as stated by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson further stated in the Declaration that, “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Think about that for a moment. Government is a creation of men. Not to brutally rule over him and micromanage all aspects of his life, but to serve its creator using the powers delegated to it by the people. Just as the people remain subordinate to their Creator, government should remain subordinate to the people who created it.
As our state legislators and other elected officials go about their duties, do they remember that the people who elected them are superior to the governmental bodies to which they are elected? Would it likely affect their actions and their policies if this truth were widely recognized and incorporated into their work?
Or has this truth been lost in the conventional wisdom by which politicians justify ever-increasing regulation, taxation and centralizing of power to the state?
There are those to whom such questions appear to be a call for lawlessness or anarchy. They would do well to remember John Locke’s words, “where there is no law, there is no freedom.” However, for government to be the proper means of securing our rights, those laws must serve the purpose of protecting the people against usurpation and oppression.
This means that there are certain things that government should not do such as the “legalized plunder” described by 19th Century French economist Frederic Bastiat in his essay The Law.
A more sound approach to keeping our legislators on track is to first ask the question, “How can our elected representatives be expected to ensure that government is operating upon sound principles when we ourselves aren’t sure what those principles are in the first place?”
Failure to keep government in its proper role is a sure recipe for the ruin of any society. If principles of good government aren’t clearly understood by each of us, we’ll find them much harder to uphold.