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What It Means To Consent

Sunday, April 02, 2006

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, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
~ The Declaration of Independence
Governments derive their powers from consent. But from whom? Well, from your consent, from my consent, from your father's consent, and from the nice lady across the street. By our collective consent, governments derive their powers to govern us. It's an interesting little word. Contained in its meaning is the power and authority to create life, to tear down nations, to sit idly by while the world crumbles around you. Consent, loosely defined, says that if you had the wherewithal, you'd do it yourself. To put it another way, if given the opportunity, you would do those things that are being done by others in your name. To consent is to either explicitly or implicitly give your approval.
When our Founding Fathers sat down to construct our system of government, they recognized that it would be impossible to get a vote tally on every issue from every eligible voter in all the individual states. A system would need to be devised that would be representative of all the population of America. That's what they gave us. Ours is a representative democracy -- a constitutional republic. Each and every voice is represented in Congress through our elected representatives. It is our duty to speak up and let our representatives know how we feel about issues. It takes our voices for a representative democracy to work correctly. Unfortunately, our silence on issues is interpreted as our consenting to them--the silent will of the people. If a population of 1000 citizens was to decide an issue and only 100 of those citizens spoke out against it, are we to assume that 900 are in favor of the issue? May be; may be not. But, by their silence their consent is assumed. This is how our system of government works.
Let me ask: Do you consent to a national debt of almost nine trillion dollars? Do you consent to the eavesdropping without a warrant on American citizens? Do you consent to ever increasing taxes? Do you consent to oppressive regulation of your lives? Do you consent to government hand-outs as if it were a charity? You must, because that is exactly what we got. All you need to do is pick up a newspaper to prove it. Do a little research. Pay attention to what's going on in government and you'll see that what I'm saying is correct. Our government does exactly what we, the people, let it do. All things done by government are done by and with our consent. Government derives its powers from our consent to be governed. It's just that simple. If you don't like what government is doing, quit consenting to it!
Robert Frost once said, "The strongest and most effective force in guaranteeing the long-term maintenance of power is not violence in all the forms deployed by the dominant to control the dominated, but consent in all the forms in which the dominated acquiesce in their own domination." He understood that once power was obtained by any government, it will use the passive consent of the people to keep and grow even more powerful. Ask yourself if government today is more or less powerful than it was five years ago? Ten years ago? Twenty-five? One hundred? Governments will always grow more powerful. It is up to the people to keep this growth in check, and we haven't been doing a very good job. How do I know? When a politician has a 98 percent chance of being re-elected, we have a problem. Either our politicians are doing a fabulous job or people are voting solely on the basis of name recognition. I'd lay money on the latter.
So, how are we to fix our government? The answer is contained in the Declaration of Independence where it says, "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." But before we can formulate a solution, we must fully define and understand the problem. Most people believe our problem lay with government... and they'd be wrong. Government is not the problem. Government is simply a tool to aid us in doing the people's business. Much like a paintbrush, we created it to help us do a job. Let's look at this problem in a different light. Let's say we hire a painter to paint our house, and at the end we find that we're not satisfied with the paint job. Do we blame the poor paint job on the paintbrush or on the painter? More times than not, the fault lies with the painter and not the tool he used. We'd be foolish to blame the paintbrush. Likewise, our system of government generally works just fine. For our solution we need to look elsewhere. We need to look at those we elect to operate our government.
How do people effect change in their government? How do we get our elected representatives to listen? By taking away their power. How do we do that? By not consenting to be governed. In Jefferson Davis's words, "[Our situation] illustrates the American idea that governments rest on the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish them whenever they become destructive of the ends for which they were established." We must remove our consent to be ill-governed by not re-electing the same people into office. We must send a clear message that we will not stand for bad representation. If an elected representative can't do the people's business, they're gone! They're fired! We've got to quit sending the same bunch of incompetents back to D.C. with the hopes that they'll change their ways. If they can't do the job for which they were hired, we have got to replace them, period! To put it in simple terms, "If we don't consent, they can't govern!"
Let me ask you a few questions: If the person we elect to do the people's business is ignorant of how our government is suppose to work, what do you suppose will happen to us? If those we elect are incompetent to run our government, how can we expect them to do a proper job? More importantly, if after they're in office, they demonstrate to us either their ignorance or their incompetence, why do we continue to re-elect them? It really makes no sense to me. You see, the problem lay not with government, but with the people we choose to run our government. And we have chosen poorly! This, the choosing of representation, is where the solution to our problem can be found. We must hold those who we have sent to do the people's business accountable for their actions. If they have performed poorly, we need to fire them. When looking at new prospective representation, we need to be absolutely positive that those we choose are knowledgeable on all aspects of our government and the rights of the people.
We must not consent to be poorly governed. Me must tell them, "No more!"
(I wish to extend a special "Thank you!" to Jerry Hughes for his commentary on this subject.)


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