I will be honest with you, I struggled with creating a post for, Common Sense. I apologize for such a late post as well. I did not face difficulty with reading or interpreting the message Thomas Paine is discussing within the reading. I actually found myself agreeing with a lot of his ideas and I do not place him into a pure “Classic Liberal” or a “Civic Republican”. I agree with most his ideas on individual rights. He discusses, “Securing freedoms such as rights to property and free exercise of religion.” (Paine, 48). I believe we all have rights that no person can take away from us no matter who the person is. Paine’s writings challenged the status quo of a monarchy, but this notion of individualism will continue to apply as long as humans have emotion. I contemplated the idea of expanding the rights that people are born with, but I do not believe that Paine would disagree with me.
“Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without a government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.” (24) This statement illustrates that we need government and he should not be considered a “Classic Liberal”. We need to have government. This book illustrates thoroughly the need to have a system. As I contemplated how to develop an argument regarding all the reasons for needing a government, but I felt as if I would be splitting hairs to find out all the reasons for government. I asked myself multiple times how to approach this substantial post and it finally hit me.
Representation. We all agreed in class that proper representation is necessary if we have a government. Paine discussed this as well when he attempted to develop a system to ensure that there is equal representation. He discussed a “lottery, Congress, a President, and elections by the people” (48, 49). These are all characteristics that go into a Democracy for Paine. According to Professor Kirkpatrick, if Paine’s system was put into place there would be around 36,000 representatives based off of today’s population. I see the flaws when we discuss the idea of having thousands of representatives since we all have our own issues that we feel the government should or should not fix. Why is it necessary to have more hands in the cookie jar? People want to have a voice for them, but even if we have that many representatives then there is no way that the individual’s vote will be heard the majority of the time. Our government will be even more of a pact mentality. Our representatives will vote with each other if they know that a piece of legislation will pass just to say that they have done something while in office rather than being accused of not. I can see the voter looking at their legislator asking for results and yet they have no power. The representative will not be able to do their job. Now I know what other will say, how is that different than what we have? My response to that question would be, that is exactly my point. I see no difference if adding that many more representatives to a dysfunctional system already. Doing nothing is not the answer. In my opinion, I do not believe that Paine would like the representative system we have in place now, but how can we fix it? How do we fix a system where the representatives do not truly represent the people?
Accountability, we as citizens need to examine the people that create laws. I am not saying that we have to look at every single representative that is out there, but we should at least examine who creates law in our district. I believe that if we were to change the system in place now by actually voting then we can create the society we want. If I am wrong, then we can examine how to change the whole system. According to PBS, New York Times, Pew Research, and many other media outlets, we had the worst voter turnout in over seventy years in last terms midterm election. People are losing hope and we need to demand for change by investing in the people. Demanding an equal opportunity such as: keeping universal healthcare, government aid, and free education. That means that if we are to get the legislators to act then we must hold their feet to the fire and hold them accountable.