One of Thomas Jefferson’s mostly influential teachers was someone he never met. John_Locke died about 40 years before Jefferson was born. Locke was a Scottish-born philosopher and physician who is generally regarded as the father of what is known as Classical_Liberalism.
One of the best ways to define classical liberalism is that it is a very literal and very exact interpretation of the great words of two documents. One is what Jefferson wrote in The Declaration Independence, that was made official 236 years ago today. The other is what 39 of the 55 representatives at the Constitutional Convention signed on September 17, 1787. Namely the Preamble of The Constitution of The United States. A literal and exact interpretation means what the words say—-not how someone may arbitrarily choose to define those words.
Another way of looking at classical liberalism is that before FDR was President, that view was called “liberal.” It has since morphed into something that might be today’s Libertarian or today’s Federalist. Please see this Examiner’s article http://www.examiner.com/article/political-branding.
One of Locke’s more important writings is referred to as his Second Treaties of Government. In Chapter IX, Section 123, Locke is discussing man leaving his “state of nature” where no person corroborates with another person. Obviously that is a situation full of life threatening situations: “This makes him willing to quit a condition, which, however free, is full of fears and continual dangers: and it is not without reason, that he seeks out, and is willing to join in society with others, who are already united, or have a mind to unite, for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties and estates, which I call by the general name, property.”
Thus was born in Jefferson’s mind our famous “...life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Founding Fathers were known to have shied away from Locke’s more materialistic approach and opted for the idea that money may not be the only route to happiness.
Locke wanted to maximize individual liberty and recognized the trade-offs between individual liberty and government, power to the people and power to government, and the power of money. Thus, Locke, Adam Smith (see this Examiner’s article, http://www.examiner.com/article/the-other-spirit-of-76), Thomas Jefferson, and two latter day thinkers Friedrich_Hayek and Milton_Friedman all focus on the same points.
Those points are what this country is about. How to preserve those points is what this election is about.