In order to accomplish your goals; you need to be able to act on what you think up. To be able to act in accordance with your reason, you need certain fundamental freedoms, called ‘rights’. (There are other things that some people call ‘rights’ that aren’t – a right is a freedom of action, not an entitlement to someone else’s work or property.)
The basic rights are:
– Right to life, also called the right to self-ownership. The most fundamental. When you’re an adult, your body is yours, (not your insurance companies) to do with as you please. No-one is allowed to force you to do anything,(vaccines) no-one is allowed to hurt you.
– Rights to liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You can do what you want, when you want, as long as you don’t violate anyone else’s rights.(no need to ask permission, or obtain a license)
– Right to property. You can own things other than just your own body.
– Right to free speech.
– Right to self-defense. If someone tries to keep your rights from you, you have the right to stop them. A corollary is the right to bear arms.
The purpose of a government is to protect those rights: from other citizens; from outside invaders; and even from itself. To do these, it should have police and courts, and a set of checks on its own power.
A set of written laws ensure that everyone knows what’s legal and what’s illegal.
A government can be its citizens’ most dangerous enemy. There are a lot of clever tricks that can be used to limit its power while still letting it do its job. These include:
a written constitution: Limits the government. Applies to the government, not to the citizens. Enumerates what the government’s powers to defend rights are, and denies all others, and those powers can’t violate individual rights themselves. Can’t be changed by the government itself.
separation of powers. A single person/group has a large amount of power. By splitting the government’s power up between different groups, it makes that power more difficult to abuse. A sample separation is between legislative (writes laws), executive (enforces laws), judicial (decides when people have broken laws), and auditive (ombudsmen who check to make sure the government isn’t breaking laws) branches.
Checks and balances. Checks: various tricks so that if one part of the government thinks another is violating rights, it can impede matters. Balances: Attempting to evenly divide government power among the different groups.
A federal system: distributes the power of government between local (“state”) governments and the central government so that none gets too strong. Central government is a government of the states rather than the people.
Voting for representatives who enact laws to protect the minority from the majority. As opposed to a pure-democratic mob-ocracy where the majority can vote in laws that violate minorities’ rights.
Trials by jury. Judges crimes to ensure the government won’t punish an innocent man. Also judges whether the laws themselves are just.
Armed populace: if all of the above tricks fail, the population has one last resort: an armed revolt to remove the offending government. This, of course, means the population needs to already be armed.