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April 09, 2022

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We have lost touch with the most basic question we must ask of any candidate: what is it that government ought to do? The only one right and moral answer has two parts.

The late Ronald Dworkin wrote that “No government is legitimate unless it subscribes to two reigning principles. First, it must show equal concern for the fate of every person over whom it claims dominion. Second, it must respect fully the responsibility and right of each person to decide how to make something valuable of his life.” (Dworkin, Justice for Hedgehogs, 2)

He further wrote that “. . . [I]n a genuinely democratic community each citizen participates as an equal partner, which means more than just that he has an equal vote. It means that he has an equal voice and an equal stake in the result.” (Dworkin, 5)

These two principles place boundaries around any principle or policy a candidate may propose. There can be no politically neutral distribution. A laissez-faire political economy that leaves unchanged the consequences of a free market does not show equal concern for everyone. The opposite fails to meet the second principle. Governance is the administration of simultaneous equations: balancing the two principles that are the foundation of a legitimate government.

The duty of the voter is to find the candidate that can best answer the question. Voters who reject the this twofold definition must come up with one of their own - and which they cannot do and still call themselves citizens of our republic.

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