(The following is part of the Mission Statement of the non-partisan group Common Sense, Common People. Explore more about this group on their Facebook group page.)
We believe that common people want to live in a state that is committed to protecting the rights of every person, because the smallest minority is an individual.
All people are equal before the law, and every human life is sacred. The lives of the lowliest and the grandest have the same intrinsic worth, and the life of every common person is as legitimate as the life of every person with power. All people have the same inalienable rights, regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, economic status, gender, or sexual orientation. Individuals are ends in themselves and should never be treated as the ends of others.
The concept of freedom means nothing if we don’t protect everyone’s inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are illusory if they are conditioned on the approval of others, if politicians or judges can abrogate them, if majorities can deny them to minorities, or if thugs and tyrants can forcibly abuse them.
The only moral purpose of government is to safeguard our inalienable rights. Nobody should be at the mercy of others, so everyone should have their individual sovereignty protected by the state. If the laws of a society treat some people as superior and others as subordinate, there will never be peace.
The individual is the basic unit of moral value in society and the basic building block of the political realm. It is only the individual who can think, feel, choose, and act. We each experience life through our own brains and hearts. No other person or group of people can think for us, feel emotions for us, or dream for us. Survival itself is an individual outcome, so every life is an irreplaceable lightning flash in eternity. The value of each individual life cannot be determined by others, nor can it be judged by reference to any group.
It is for these reasons that the sanctity of each individual life must be the moral foundation of our politics. We each possess equal moral legitimacy to freely pursue a meaningful life that is safe from the predation of others. Self-preservation is the fundamental essence of being alive, and all of the rights and laws in civil society must be subordinate to it. This can only happen if everyone in society recognizes the equal and reciprocal rights of everyone else. It is all or nothing.
This is the reason why people enter into society and create governments. We are each self-owning and self-reliant. We desire the freedom to think and to act in order to fulfill our own self-defined needs and desires for ourselves and our loved ones. We look to society and to our governments to secure this freedom against those ill-intentioned people who wish to take it away.
This freedom comes with a price. The price is inherent in the concept of reciprocal recognition of the similar freedom of everyone else. We cannot claim our personal freedom if we do not also allow that very same freedom for everyone else in society.
An absolute right to personal freedom necessarily implies personal responsibility and self-reliance. Life is filled with toil, hardship, and the perpetual need for self-renewal. This burden isn’t a curse from the heavens or an unfair abuse by other people. It’s simply the tribute that living beings must pay to remain alive. It leaves no moral option to claim by force the labor or property of others in order to relieve yourself of your own obligations.
If individual sovereignty is to be the bedrock of our society, then our political Golden Rule must be to never harm any other person in their health, their liberty, or their property. Each person must own the consequences of their decisions and their actions, good or bad. The good consequences cannot be taken by others using force, and the bad consequences cannot be passed on to others using force. Force is the opposite of morality because morality is meaningless if a person isn’t free to make their own decisions.
If the sanctity of each person is indeed the foundation of a society, then initiating force against any individual must be treated as the root of all social evil. We must neither coerce others nor be coerced by others. Coercion occurs when one person’s actions are forced to serve another person’s will. In this context, force not only includes actual physical compulsion, but also the implied threat of physical compulsion (e.g., the threat of fines or jail time when failing to comply).
Thus, in a free society that is committed to protecting the inalienable rights of every person, there must be no initiation of aggression by individuals or groups. It must be a society of mutual consent and collaboration rather than coercion and force. If this is not true, then the politically strongest in the society will become the masters of all. This would utterly defeat the true mission of government, which is to protect the weak from the strong and the few from the many.
A final implication of a society that is committed to protecting the rights and sovereignty of every individual is that group-based rights mean nothing. If a particular group of people lays claims to rights, protections, or privileges unique to itself, it inherently violates the principle of equality under the law for every individual. Every individual believes in their own personal sovereignty. Trouble begins when certain people, certain groups, or certain Elites begin to believe that their sovereignty trumps that of everyone else. When that happens, society degenerates into a war of class against class or faction against faction.
If the principle of sovereignty for each individual is rejected, then all social morality is rejected. Every sane and peaceful aspect of civilization is built on that principle. Rejection of the principle must necessarily lead to social conflict, then to totalitarianism, and then ultimately to revolution.
Paradoxically, the only way to unite all of the races, creeds, and factions is to guarantee the rights and freedom of each individual, no matter their race, creed, or affiliation. The great treasure of humankind will be to finally arrive at the ultimate social pinnacle where the state protects all people from all forms of coercion and violence, whether committed by individuals, groups, or tyrants.