The ideas of John Locke
The ideas put forward by English philosopher John Locke have helped create the modern vision of the state, and had great influence in what the founders of the United States sought when creating the country's form of government. Therefore, it is vital to talk about his ideas and how they have shaped modern politics, especially his ideas about liberty, the executive and prerogative powers.
Locke's political theory was founded under the principal of inalienable rights, meaning rights that had been given to humans by God and therefore could not, under any circumstances, be violated. These rights are mainly liberty, to own property, life and the pursuit of one's own goals, that in contrast to more modern thinkers are negative rights that all human beings have.
Regarding government, Locke believed that individuals decided to form a government based on an idea of a social contract, where they decided to give power to a ruler but retained their sovereignty and therefore could revolt if said government took away their rights.
To further the discussion on Locke’s ideas, they must be evaluated by their strengths and weaknesses. It is clear that the concept of liberty as thought by Locke is important in modern thinking, because it puts people above their rulers, a basic concept in modern democracies, as well as having rights inherent to everyone and that cannot be taken away, standing firmly against tyranny that seeks to establish itself above people, which goes hand in hand with the right to revolt against an illegitimate government, which may seem antiquated but it is the idea behind checks and balances.
On other hand, Locke’s thinking clearly has weaknesses, mainly in putting liberty above everything else, as this creates an individualistic society where the rights of the collective are not at the forefront, thus promoting inequality, a problem in modern society where individuals and corporations take what they want and do not give back, because their rights supersede those of others.
Locke also theorized about how a government should work, especially about the separation of powers, and how each one of them interacted with the others. The three powers envisioned by Locke are legislative, executive and federative, but the discussion will be centered in the executive power, that is supposed to enforce the laws put forward by the legislative power and should abide as well by those laws.
Modern presidents are the executive power in charge of enforcing laws, but then again also use their powers to judge the necessities of their countries according to what they think it is right and then leading the way to actually satisfy those necessities. Presidents also use their prerogative power, that according to Locke is their right to act in the countries best interests without explicit authorization by law, that does not mean they can do whatever they want, instead that presidents can sometimes act on their own if it the law is simply not enough to solve a pressing issue.