Halloween is an annual holiday that many citizens have a difficult time outgrowing. Driving around campus this past week as early as Tuesday night, college aged students were all dressed up in costumes. Ann Arbor truly got into the Halloween spirit, as did
other universities around the country; with that being said it becomes fairly obvious that Halloween is a “fan favorite” and an event that people of all ages look forward to every year. As a result, the events that occurred in the Northeast are especially troubling and maybe even immoral.
In a plethora of municipalities across the northeast, Halloween has been cancelled! How could this happen? In Summit New Jersey, Halloween activities have been postponed due to in-climate weather, power outages, and fallen power lines. At this juncture I think it is should be mentioned that the municipalities have a responsibility to their citizens to look out for their safety and the downed power lines and in-climate weather could present unsafe conditions for young trick-or-treaters. As already noted, Halloween is a very popular holiday with young children and many first hand accounts of disappointed children can be seen in this article.
While it is understandable in this example that the municipalities are looking out for their citizens safety, do they really have the right to postpone or even cancel the national holiday? Despite the humor in this example and the fact that the local governments are doing everything they can to fix the situation to satisfy the young trick-or-treaters, the issue requires examination on a much larger scale. In my mind the subject of governmental power is something that we as a people need to look at and evaluate.
If the government can cancel or postpone a holiday that occurs on an annual basis with such ease, what else can they do with out opposition? Additionally, the government in our country is supposed to be a representation of what the people want, clearly in the case of postponing Halloween it was not what they wanted. Keeping that in mind only strengthens my curiosity about other instances where the government could abuse their power and whether or not they would even think twice.
We can look back to the Patriot Act and the No Fly list, and even president Obama’s most recent college loan plan, which can be viewed more in depth in article 1 and article 2. From the most elementary levels students are taught that each branch of the government is kept in check by the other two branches but with these examples it becomes evident that the governmental branches can essentially do whatever they want. A main point of the Hobbes material we encountered is fear and that the emotion of fear leads people to give up their natural freedoms while agreeing to conform to what the government requires. As trivial as the example may be, what stops the government from canceling halloween in years to come? If they come up with a good enough reason to scare the citizens into believing Halloween could be detrimental; the government could in theory cancel the holiday. More importantly than Halloween, the government could take this on a larger scale and would potentially receive minimal opposition. We could ask ourselves, how far does the power of the state actually extend? In my opinion, the lack of opposition is a scary thought and something that should be considered by all.
As I already stated, the government is supposed to be acting in the best interest of the people but what happens if they stop acting in our best interest? When the government passes acts, does it mean that this is what the people they represent wanted? Hobbes believes that fear of the government will force us to conform to whatever changes they make and in a way he may be right. When the government does put forth policies like the Patriot Act or the No Fly list there are always radical groups that voice their opinions and protest but does this group ever include the majority of people? Do the opponents of the governments policies ever include prominent public figures or is it just a group of adamant people?
In the end all of this comes down to one question, is the government actually a reflection of what the people want and if not, what do we do about it?