Principles and Public Policy in American Politics


According to the American Founders, the purpose of just government is to secure the natural rights of its citizens, such as the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. By contrast, the consensus among much of today’s political elite is that government exists to provide benefits and favors for designated constituencies. This new view—which underlies much of contemporary American public policy—constitutes a rejection of the Founders’ policy of equal rights for all Americans, and special privileges for none.


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Thomas G. West is the Paul Ermine Potter and Dawn Tibbetts Potter Professor in Politics at Hillsdale College. He received his B.A. from Cornell University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University.