You might have caught a few zingers and more than a little spin during the second presidential debate, but did you notice the writing on the wall? The backdrop behind the podiums featured words from the Declaration of Independence. Eyes were on the raucous debate between candidates Clinton and Trump. The elegant cursive script was easy to overlook.

It read, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

If you know what these words mean you know the candidates overlooked them as well.

All of us are equally human so no one is born to rule over another. Each of us has a right to his or her own life, freedom, property, and pursuits. The purpose of government is very specific — to protect these rights from encroachment.

That’s the foundation of our republic, our Constitution and our Bill of Rights.

So what didn’t the candidates get right? Several things.

With the paternalism one associates with kings, Clinton promised during the debate to “invest” our money for us in so-called renewable energy and other programs for our own good. She also intends to interfere in wage negotiations between Americans. Not to be left out, Trump said he wants to prevent Americans from moving their companies overseas and he will force taxpayers to pay for maternity leave benefits.

Both candidates said during the debate that they want to prohibit Americans on terror watch lists or no-fly lists from buying firearms. Perhaps they are unfamiliar with the Second Amendment and the right of Americans to buy guns. That right can be abrogated only with due process (see Fifth Amendment). Simply being on a list, whether by mistake or for good reason, is not due process.

Similarly, Trump’s support for a national Stop and Frisk policy shows ignorance of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizures. A federal court has ruled that police cannot stop and frisk just anyone. There must be a reasonable suspicion of criminality.

By the end of the debate, both candidates needed reminding of the purpose of government and elected officials. Their purpose is to protect the life, liberty, and property of citizens. It is not to redistribute wealth, oversee business transactions, stop gun sales to people who can lawfully own them, or search Americans who are doing nothing wrong.

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