This last Tuesday, the Republican Party benefited from an en masse migration of independents to their ranks. The nation voted, then watched the GOP candidates systematically dismantle the massive majorities the Democrat Party had in the House and Senate. While the Democrats did not yield control of the Senate, their ability to proceed with carte-blanche will be a memory with the inauguration of the 212th Congress. The question of these midterms is simply this: was the anger that carried the Republicans to power justified? The people were clearly enraged with the sitting Democrat Congress on election day, holding a public approval rating of less than 20% according to RealClearPolitics.com (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/congressional_job_approval-903.html).
The argument could be made that Lockean principles are at work here. We can see clearly that the anger of the people had reached a fever-pitch as the District of Columbia’s continuous ignorance of the popular demand pressed on through the mandate they had been given.
Locke spoke extensively of the different iterations of Governmental interaction in his piece, “Second Treatise of Government.” Locke stated in the chapter, “Of Tyranny,” that tyranny is the wrongful use of power. He also gives the people the prerogative for rebellion in this instance, or a “right of revolution” when the people’s trust is violated by the powers that be. Although there was no real revolution, the people did have a somewhat of a ballot box revolution with a “kick the bums out” mantra. The question here is simply this, though, did the people have a right to revolution here? Is this “tyranny” as Locke defined it (or at least tyranny enough to change the powers that be within the bounds of the election process)?
I would argue that the people did have a right to this electoral rebellion that swept across the nation on this most recent Election Day. Locke contends that the people are the “Supreme Power,” and that the members of the Government in the main branch, the Legislative, are there to represent them, from chapter “Of the Extent of the Legislative Power.” Locke states in this particular chapter, “…the legislative which the public has chosen and appointed…” meaning that the Legislative exists to exert the power given to them by the people. However, when this Legislative power deviates from the general purposes for which they were employed by the people, they are abusing their power as Locke defined it, for when they cease to act in the interest of their charge, the people, they give up the claim to the power with which they were endowed. These deviates from public desires are reflected in the passage of the HealthCare Bill, which remains unpopular according to Rasmussen Reports (http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/right_direction_or_wrong_track), along with the extraordinary amount of spending that the public has come to view with contempt. The outgoing majorities in the U.S. Congress had used their power in improper ways, ignoring the will of the people they were meant to represent and from whom they drew their power. According to Locke, this is tyranny, and the people had every right to anger. It was a righteous anger, and they made their will known in a resounding fashion. One can only hope that the next Congress will obey the directives of the people, and act accordingly with their reason for being there.
– Brandon Tomlinson