The Political Philosophy of John Locke and Its Influence on the Founding Fathers and the Political Documents They Created

Part One: The Political Philosophy of John Locke

In his works “A Letter Concerning Toleration” (1689) and “The Second Treatise On Civil Government” (1690), philosopher John Locke created what would become the philosophical source for the founding principles of the United States. In what follows, I will summarize the central arguments presented in the Letter, followed by the arguments presented in the Treatise. Following the summaries, I will demonstrate the influence that these works had on the thinking of the founding fathers and the political documents they created.

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Democracy vs. Freedom

Youssef Ibrahim states that “America’s war on terror is premised on the rejection of religious tyranny and the separation of mosque and state.” Would that that were true. The sad reality is that our culture at large, including our current president, has lost the ability to grasp the core American principle of inalienable individual rights and its corollary principle of the separation of church and state. As a result, “freedom” for our deeply religious president means the spread of unlimited majority rule—by means of war, if necessary—to a part of the world untouched by the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, and whose citizens are therefore far more likely to vote for a dictatorship founded on Islamic sharia law than for a republic founded on a constitution that protects individual rights.

The Iraq War vs. The American Revolution

For President Bush to compare the Iraq war to the American Revolution, and, by implication, himself to George Washington, is morally obscene. The American Revolution was fought to establish the first and only country in history explicitly based on the principle of the recognition and protection of individual rights. The Iraq war is being fought, neither to protect the rights of Americans, nor to establish a new, free country that protects the rights of its citizens, but rather, to establish the so-called “right” of a philosophically bankrupt population to vote in any form of government they choose. In the context of the Middle East, this will almost certainly result in a new Islamic dictatorship, and ultimately, a much more threatening enemy than Saddam Hussein.

The Draft (published in USA Today)

There is one detail that is being ignored in Representative Rangel’s proposal to reinstate the draft: the free will choices of the Americans whose lives he literally assumes that he has the right to dispose of.

Whatever happened to America’s founding principal that every American citizen has inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Does there even exist in this country anymore a political party that will acknowledge the principle of individual rights, much less defend it?