OPINION – Why does consent matter?
It matters because there are only two ways by which men can achieve their goals: by force or persuasion.
The key characteristic that differentiates between these two methods is that of consent.
Blogger Rob Nielsen explains how this simple concept gives legitimacy to human interactions:
Consent is magical. It turns stealing into sharing, slavery into service, extortion into charity, exploitation into cooperation, and rape into loving intimacy.
The importance of consent is not limited to purely personal interactions. It is a foundational principle of good government as well. Governments that rely upon force rather than consent are rightly considered tyrannical.
This was clearly enunciated in the Declaration of Independence where our nation’s founders boldly asserted that, in order to secure our natural rights:
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Without the voluntary consent of the governed, injustice becomes the norm unless the people fulfill their duty to make the necessary corrections.
The next sentence of the Declaration drives home exactly what that means:
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.
Remember, this is the legal document that underlies the Constitution. It spells out the rationale of exactly why the colonies refuse to be governed any longer by the king.
Over time, King George had come to rule by lawless compulsion rather than by consent. His government had ceased to exist for any interests other than its own.
To better understand why this is contrary to legitimate government consider the words of Lysander Spooner:
One essential of a free government is that it rest wholly on voluntary support. And one certain proof that a government is not free, is that it coerces more or less persons to support it, against their will.
By withdrawing their consent, the founders did not take control of the king’s courts and parliament. Instead they divorced themselves from his oppressive system and assumed responsibility for their own governance.
The king, of course, tried to violently suppress them from leaving his control but their unbending will to assert and defend their God-given rights was too much to overcome.
They knew they had moral truth on their side and were willing to take a stand against overwhelming odds. Who would still agree that they were right to do so?
The bigger question for modern Americans is, would you recognize whether your government, at any level, is operating with or without your consent?
Former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts offers this blunt assessment:
The US is lawless in the sense that law serves only the government and its agenda. In America law no longer has any other meaning. There is no rule of law. We are ruled by the government’s agenda.
How is this different in principle to the system from which our founders withdrew their consent?
Modern day Tories like to claim that we’ve each consented by virtue of residency, refusal to violently resist laws with which we disagree, acceptance of government benefits or by voting for the regime – as opposed to voting on its legitimacy.
We’re not supposed to consider whether our natural rights are being openly violated by our supposed rulers. The only acceptable options we are given are to submit and obey.
Under such self-serving conditions, their so-called social contract starts looking more like suicide pact.
After all, it is impossible to freely give our consent when we are not free to refuse to consent.
The problem is compounded when our laws and statutes multiply so rapidly and arbitrarily as to make it impossible to say with confidence that we are in complete compliance.
This tendency of man-made governments to become overzealous in how they rule was recognized long ago by James Madison in Federalist #62:
If the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow.
It’s clear where unchecked government power is ultimately leading us.
Those who need our voluntary cooperation to maintain their power over us will never give us permission to withdraw our consent.
That’s a choice we’ll have to make on our own.
Bryan Hyde is a popular radio commentator and opinion leader in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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