Hobbes and Locke Today

Amanda Hampton


Section 10

Our government today is forever evolving. Although our government is based off a constitution, our government is continually changing their interpretation of 1024px-Obama_Health_Care_Speech_to_Joint_Session_of_Congressthe constitution. Through these changes, our government set up is transforming from a Locke based government, to a Hobbes based government. But the question remains, which theorist is more influential on today’s government?



As most educated people know, the founders of the constitution looked towards Locke to write the constitution. They agreed with Locke’s state of nature. They believed everyone was created free and equal, and that government should be a contract between the people and the government. Locke also believed in democracy and that government should protect peoples property. Although the constitution states, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” the government JohnLockestill tries to protect peoples property. Today, we still believe in Locke’s ideal government and our government reflects these beliefs. Therefore, the government tries to work with the people to accomplish the goals that benefit the people, such as healthcare. Our government is still a democracy and we continue to elect our representatives and vote on several issues. Even our justice system embodies Locke’s ideas for we have an appointed judge to create peace after havoc is caused because of crimes.

Although Locke’s theories are weaved throughout American politics, Hobbes ideas are not as prominent. Hobbes believes that government should be run by a sovereign. Everything the sovereign does is correct and the people cannot question his ruling. 220px-Thomas_Hobbes_(portrait)Americans would not like this type of ruling because Americans believe that they should have a say in what happens in their government. However, America has someone like a Hobbian sovereign… the President.

Some people will disagree with this statement, arguing that the president must obey congress and the people’s will. But in reality, the executive branch has been gaining power exponentially through the years. The president has the power to veto a bill, the power to wage war, and the power to make executive orders.

As early as next week, Barack Obama may take executive orders to change immigration reform in America. Immigration has always been Barack Obama’s 220px-President_Barack_Obamatodo list, but because of modern day politics, his goals have not been reached, and they will mostly not happen through congress because both houses are republican. Therefore, he is turning towards executive action in order to help illegal immigrants become citizens. Since he is using executive orders, congress can not easily stop him. This is much like how a sovereign works in Hobbes ideal government. To Hobbes, a sovereign should be able to do what he wants in order to prevent war. The President is doing exactly this. He is doing what he believes will better the United States, even if people may disagree with him, like the majority of Republicans.

Both Locke and Hobbes ideas are present in today’s American government. I believe today our government follows Hobbes’ ideals more than Locke’s, because our executive branch is much stronger than the other branches. So what do you believe? Who is more influential, Locke or Hobbes?