Zach Antoyan is a political science senior and Mustang News liberal columnist. | Ian Billings/Mustang News

Zachary Antoyan
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Zachary Antoyan is a political science senior and Mustang News liberal columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.

Last week, I told you what the proper role of government is. If you are my editor or my dad, then you probably read that column and know what I’m talking about. But you probably aren’t, so let’s go over what that phrase means.

I remember practically nothing from my AP European History class in high school. However, I do remember that whenever we talked about a philosopher, it was usually in the context of, “They’re trying to explain what the proper role of government is.”

That’s no small order, considering that for them, if the proper role of government didn’t involve the king or the church having total control of the populace, philosopher heads were gonna roll.

The proper role of government still hasn’t been definitively answered. I don’t mean since I took that class. I mean, like, for the hundreds of years since Machiavelli attempted to define it. I tried to define the role last week by claiming that it is comprised of three main functions.

It needs to maximize individual agency allowing for the pursuit of personal interest, while providing that all of its members are equal so no member has justification to act in a way others can’t. Finally, it needs to maximize the social benefits available to all. If you disagree with this, please feel free to write a response and place it in the bucket over there, which conveniently doubles as a trash can.

The reasoning behind these claims were in last week’s column, so this week, we are going to evaluate your illustrious American government in terms of these conditions. In the United States, we have this thing called a “representative democracy.” That means, in principle, your opinion matters.

It especially matters when your elected official is up for reelection. But because your opinion that cheese on all the sandwiches in the land is supposed to be Swiss cheese is contrasted by Jeff’s opinion that the cheese on all sandwiches is supposed to be pepper jack, the representative has a hard decision to make. Even worse, the elected official may hold the opinion that the cheese on all the sandwiches is supposed to be cheddar. How do you reconcile this? You don’t get to. When it comes down to it, it isn’t your decision. It is rare that your political will is ever acted upon on the national stage, and this sucks.

This representative structure does not maximize an individual’s agency. In fact, it unnecessarily reduces it by taking the decision-making power away from you, and gives it to another individual who is holds the collective agency of everyone in their constituency.

The founding fathers, I’m sure, tried their hardest to develop a system that included everyone. Unfortunately, gathering everyone who lived in the United States then, and especially now, into one room to make decisions together would be impossible. A representative system was how they dealt with that. But this system is outdated. But with the advent of the Internet — where input can be gathered from remote locations — we now have the capability to collect the opinion of everyone involved, rather than concentrate decisions and power with a select few.

A representative system stands in direct contrast to maximizing individual agency. Not only this, but our current system of representation does a terrible job at ensuring all members in its society are equal. It’s important in this case to know we are not talking about resource distribution.

We do not operate under communist or socialist structures, and therefore are not talking about distributing money, land or other resources to ensure equality. Instead, we are talking about what some people have — money — that allows them to preform basic functions, or affect national decisions, that others do not have the availability to do.

If I am a member of the American elite, I have a higher chance of having my political will adhered to because I donated tens of thousands of dollars to the representative’s campaign. This stifles the voice and opinion of the individuals who cannot do the same, and amounts to a massive disparity in equality between members of a society. We have allowed money to affect the decision-making process, and with a Supreme Court that constantly operates under the belief that money is equivalent to free speech, we will see this chasm between members of society increase.

Since decisions are concentrated at the top and affected by the money given to political campaigns, the social benefits derived from the social contract are not maximized or evenly distributed. A system that allows for this disparity is a terrible system of government — and it is ours.

This is Zachary Antoyan, hoping your finals go well and your summer is kickass, wishing his editors a fantastic rest of their lives and thanking them for dealing with his crap. I’ll see you all for one last quarter next year.

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