This November, we determine our choices for government. And, we should look to the momentous advances in American society over the past few decades to guide the decisions we make as to our State, County, City, Town, and Village governments. In the minds of many, the great English philosopher John Locke expressed the concern that, without the ownership of property, a member of society does not live with justice and fairness. One would imagine that this would include both the due and proper definition of property, and its enforcement. Thus, justice and freedom require that one first have a government upon which one may rely in order to possess and own property.
Americans live in the hypothetical, as to our right, power, and privilege of self-governance. Our personal decisions and life choices are individual, yet based upon a common understanding about the world in which we live. We each possess a theme, an abstract view of ourselves, our family and our community. This theme guides our particular opinions, both negative and positive. It constitutes our political faith.
So, how do we achieve political faith? Our individual tenets of political faith are derived from our social customs, and our understanding of how we relate to society and our community. All of our governmental leaders: national, state and local, are empowered to invoke the authority of government. And, in doing so, they should look, collectively, to our individual tenets of political faith. Thereby, they enact the federal laws and regulations, state statutes, and local ordinances that create and enforce our rights of property. This might constitute a Lockean sense of justice, for our political beliefs and opinions create and provide the property we bequeath to our children, and how we participate generationally in our country.
In evaluating candidates and referenda this election season, we should ask certain questions. First, how do I view the relationship between the candidates offered for my political subdivision and our American governing officials? Second, in what manner do the offered candidates express a view on the ownership and development of my property rights? Third, do the offered candidates look to our nation’s reliance upon principles of capitalism and the marketplace to enhance and secure my property and prosperity, and that of my political subdivision? Fourth, which of the offered candidates for my political subdivision may best collaborate with the officials of our State and Federal governments to so revise and enforce definitions of property?
In asking these questions, so that we may participate and comment upon society and government, we must each individually have a sense of our own property. We could look to a sense of the traditional Anglo-American common law definition of property as derived from John Locke, namely, that individual property rights are created from our individual investment of labor in the act of property creation. In this sense, how is our labor to be defined and described, and what is the property it creates? Our property rights as individuals determine our political and social power.
We must each provide a description of our property, both to share amongst ourselves in the course of ordinary conversation, and in offering our comments to candidates and elected officials. Our definition of our property is determined by what we know and how we know. As Locke might say, these rights are based upon each individual’s perfect control and dominion in right of ownership of property. As to property, this would be a tenet of political faith.
Lori Gayle Nuckolls