The purpose of government, at least in the United States, is to uphold the values of independence − life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To foster a society where its members can do what they want as long as they do not impinge on those same freedoms of their neighbors. In individual responsibility to themselves and in civility to others the general welfare of the country rises. The Preamble of the Constitution of the United States of America sums up the spirit of the words that follow.
Government has a responsibility. It has no freedom of its own without the advice and consent of the people whom it represents. This advice and consent, through the constitutional processes of representation, are distilled into the laws that the people pass to govern themselves.
American people, equal under law per the provisions of the Constitution, are endowed with the inalienable rights to think as they wish, speak and write as they please, vote how they want (Amendment 1) and live in the security of their “persons, houses, papers and effects” (Amendment 4) without fear of retribution for disagreeing either with their neighbors or elected representatives. They voluntarily form communities of like-minded people provided they assemble in peace in person or in virtual gatherings such as social media.
The representatives of the people have the responsibility to safeguard the individual constitutional rights of the citizens and the authority to enforce the people’s laws. Individualism as a fundamental American value and a building block of the society keeps the United States open to being what it is: a state formed by immigrants from foreign lands who knew that they were immigrants. Assimilation is the process of adding to the American society, not suppressing the self to belong to what already exists.
Social choice, outside the law, does not exist in the United States. The constitution and law is social choice in America, with due respect to economist Kenneth Arrow’s Nobel-winning work “Social Choice and Individual Values.”
People’s freedoms will erode when a government of elected representatives and their salaried workers, themselves American, in the name of a social order that it wants to maintain acts in a manner that contravenes the Constitutional rights of the rest of the society. The government then arrogates to itself the freedom to do what it wants rationalized as correct, whether right or wrong.
Government freedom, the freedom of “We the People”, is not the same as the non-existent but very real albeit unconstitutional freedom, authoritarianism, of its representatives to impinge on the freedoms of their constituents.
Authoritarianism is tyranny, in the United States or elsewhere.