Without the individual it is impossible for any collective to exist. Therefore, it logically follows that no collective authority can be legitimate if the natural rights of the individual are not respected. Individualism is the basic notion that the ultimate authority is the individual; that people own themselves and the fruits of their labour.
John Locke embodied this principle quite well when he penned this:
“The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”
The thought that each person is independent and is responsible for their own actions is part of what makes New Hampshire such a great place. People living here already understand the basic values of liberty and individualism. It is my job as your representative to protect your ultimate authority and make sure that your government does not violate our basic natural rights.
Although the individual is supreme, there is absolutely value in collectivism. However, there is only positive value in collectivism when people come together voluntarily. This is the core of voluntarism. It is essentially the protocol by which all goods and services, public or private, are furnished in a free and open market.
Voluntarists require that all contracts between two or more people be instituted with the full and informed consent of each party. A contract that a person is forced or coerced into is thus seen as invalid. The “social contract” is seen by voluntarists as an involuntary and uninformed contract by the simple fact that you were born into it and thus had no choice in the matter. This is not to say that government cannot be instituted voluntarily however it certainly would be a stretch to claim that the majority of people do consent to this imposed governance.
Frédéric Bastiat, one of the early modern scholars of voluntarist law and economics, describes it in this way:
“By associating with one another, men can gain greater advantage from their strength. However, the forms of association are infinite; which is best? Let us not run the risk that the state imposes the worst of these on us; let us seek the right one by trial and error, and demand the freedom of association.
A people has two ways of procuring something. The first is to make it; the second is to make something else and trade it. It is certainly better to have the option than not to have it. Let us therefore demand the freedom to trade.
I am throwing myself into public debate; I am trying to get through to the crowd to preach all the freedoms, the total of which make up liberty.”
I see any violation of these basic concepts by any individual, collective, or state to be a grave threat to liberty at large. Here in New Hampshire there is already a culture conducive to free enterprise as evidenced by our lack of sales and income tax. It is our job to ensure that this remains this way. This spirit of freedom of association drives a desire to create and innovate that benefits not only the innovator but the society as a whole. It is my job as your representative to help government get out of your way so you are free to take risks and enjoy their benefits.
Finally, if we allow government to exist in any form it must not be in a fashion that leads to the consolidation of power. Over the past two-hundred or more years the federalist system that has arisen within the United States has proven itself to be an unsustainable business model that lends itself to detached despotism rather than cooperative, responsive governance. This is evidenced by the blatant rights violations by the central government and irresponsible spending, leading to a state monopoly on force and violence, and insolvency.
It is high time that we now return to a policy of anti-federalism. If people desire government, let it be voluntary and local so as to restore as much power to the individual as possible. We must ensure that New Hampshire resists federal control through “carrot and stick” funding and threatening mandates. New Hampshire already has very localized control over many aspects of government such as education, property taxation, and budgeting. This stems in large part from the New England town meeting-style government where all inhabitants can do their part participating in and restraining government. When people hold government accountable at the local level, it becomes easier to hold larger state institutions accountable as well.
I would argue that although New Hampshire already has a very decentralized, highly representative, accountable government, it does not go far enough. We need to play an active role in repealing legislation so as to allow towns and cities to govern themselves more appropriately, with only general oversight at the state level. It is my job as your representative to restore and reaffirm the right to self-govern to individuals in my district.