In the book 1634: The Baltic War (Ring of Fire Series Book 3), a point was raised:
“A ruler needs legitimacy before all else, and legitimacy, in the end, must have its base in the consent of the governed.”
In reviewing the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, a person will find the term consent a mainstay of constitutional law, foundational to establishing and solidifying the legitimacy of the citizen in this Constitutional Republic. Let’s be specific here and take a moment to understand the principles of consent. Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to a proposal or desires of another. It is a term of common speech, possessing specific definitions used in law, medicine, research, and sexual relationships, to name but a few.
Consent does not dictate or imply legitimacy; legitimacy is independent of consent, but actions of those in charge must be legitimate, or the governed’s consent makes the government’s actions illegitimate. Hence, the need to understand legitimate activities and how these actions are either legitimate or illegitimate. Legitimacy depends on the root word legitimate; if something is legitimate, it complies with the law, follows established or accepted rules or standards, and must be valid and logically sound.
Using a piece of recent legislation, we can more fully understand the point about something being legitimate and appropriate to the consent of the governed. 40-years ago, the US Congress (The Senate and the House of Representatives) stopped passing budgets to authorize and oversee federal government spending, and the holders of America’s checkbook began using continuing resolutions (CR) instead of appropriating funds as part of a national review of expenditures to a published budget.
Consider with me, no CR appropriates money, merely extends a previous CR approved by Congress. 40 years of making the same mistake doesn’t legitimize the actions of Congress not to pass a budget. The original CR was illegitimate and was against the consent of the governed, so every single CR replacing a balanced budget since has been against the consent of the governed as the actions were illegitimate, even if those making the decisions claimed they were needed or legal. Thus, the CR fails the sniff test for government spending. A historically wrong decision does not legitimize the current actions of the elected.
The law clearly states the US House of Representatives must pass an annual budget. Part of that budget process must include evaluating the spending previously and determining if those writing the checks performed their jobs appropriately. This is why independent audits of government agencies, including each of the members of Congress, are desperately needed to maintain the economic health of the United States. For the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and every other agency to continually fail audits is 100% illegitimate and against the consent of the governed.
Does this make sense? Your personal and family financial fiduciary health requires an end-of-month audit of spending, a balancing of the checkbook, and an evaluation of expenditures to meet budgetary restrictions and fiscal goals and objectives. At the end of the year, you evaluate all the past year’s spending in preparation for the annual tax deadline. Yet, the example of the executive, legislative, and judicial, both at the state and federal levels, is not reflected in the daily struggles of the governed. Making the government’s actions illegitimate and against the consent of the governed. These two principles, legitimacy and consent, reflect a significant portion of the basis of the anger many in America feel but cannot express.
Why do we struggle to express this anger? We have not understood the principles of consent and legitimacy. In a constitutional republic, if what those elected are doing hurts one portion of the populace, it hurts the entire population. We do not have a democracy where a mere 51% of the people benefiting can justify destroying the other 49% of the population. Why does the US Constitution require what the media calls a “supermajority” erroneously?” Because in a constitutional republic, the rule of law protects all citizens equally, thus providing legitimacy to follow the law, an impetus to adhere to the law when no legal authorities are directly observing you, and allows for the consent of the governed to be honored and upheld even if a small minority disagrees with a decision by the elected authorities.
Hence the difference between a democracy and a constitutional republic. We are encouraged under the rule of law to disagree, petition the government peacefully, and insist the elected representatives follow and live by the same laws they enact. Nothing in the US Constitution allows for an elected representative to play the stock market for personal gain, to abdicate their duties by voting via proxy, disregarding their legally authorized obligations, or many of the methods for abusing the citizenry that have become “accepted” because a vocal minority pushes an agenda.
Speaker Pelosi cannot claim that something is acceptable merely because she was the house speaker. The president cannot break the law simply because they are the commander in chief of the armed forces. Elected representatives cannot, and should not, be making money trading stocks with insider information. The list of what has become acceptable behaviors of elected officials is long and egregious. Always the same two principles balance as a means to judge those behaviors and actions. Is what they are doing legitimate and consensual to the expressed opinions of the governed? If the answer to one is negative, the elected representatives have no power to govern.
Consider the crime of rape. If consent is withdrawn, the intercourse is non-consensual and illegitimate, and a legal charge of rape can be investigated for criminal activity. The same is true for speeding; the laws clearly state speed limits are acceptable, breaching the limit in a motorized vehicle is unsafe, and simply because the occupants of the car consent don’t make speeding legitimate. Both consent and legitimacy must be approved to make an action acceptable.
If the driver operating a vehicle demands that speeding is legitimate, will a judge or police officer agree? Does a passenger screaming about the need to go faster legitimize the illegal actions of breaking speed limits? If a passenger suddenly replaces the driver, even though they own the vehicle, is responsibility for actions moved to the new driver or remain with the owner or original driver? These are easily understood questions when consent and legitimacy principles are fully understood in context.
Consider the ramifications of neglecting legitimacy and consent. Does a make-out session between two consenting adults mean the sex was consensual? No, because if one party does not want sex, merely wants to make out, provided both parties have reached the legally determined age of consent, the make-out session is consensual, but not the sex. This is not splitting the proverbial legal hairs. If making out and sexual intercourse are two separate actions, which they are, then the legal need for consent legitimizes sexual intercourse.
Now using this analogy, let’s evaluate the legislation for not passing a budget. Not passing a budget is one action, but not passing a timely budget does not justify a continuing resolution to authorize government spending. Not passing a budget, not conducting audits, and not demanding fiscal responsibility are all separate actions but never legitimize the continuing resolution. The root cause does not justify the stop-gap spending. Just like consensual necking does not legitimize sexual intercourse or speeding on a highway.
The courts have been very clear actions supporting lawbreaking do not imply permission or consent. Consider the laws of drunk driving, the rights of the injured victim, or the families of those killed. Society has allowed, through legislation, the ability to drink alcoholic beverages provided the consumer is over a specific age. Does the legal permission to drink automatically legitimize the consumer to operate any motorized vehicle after drinking; of course not, and laws have shaped and changed drunk driving behaviors since 1910. The consumer is granted consent based on age and legal limitations to drinking alcoholic beverages but is not legitimized to drive, ride a horse, operate a bicycle, boat, etc., while intoxicated. Those injured or killed did not grant consent for the consumer to ruin their lives. Hence the consent of the governed and legitimacy of drunk driving laws are established, and the consumer’s responsibility to drink responsibly is solidified in society.
Returning to the continuing resolutions, the fiscal insanity of the government and the bureaucrats’ fiduciary irregularity contradict the governed’s consent. Taxes are paid, but the taxpayers still hold responsibility and accountability for the money they earn to pay those taxes. Through electing representatives to oversee how tax monies are spent, the responsibility to provide an accounting for those funds is exchanged by the citizenry electing to the elected. The citizen cannot be held directly responsible for the actions of the elected representative. Still, through fair, transparent, and legal elections, accountability for the actions of the elected is expressed.
By failing to provide clear and logical, transparent, fiscal accounting to the electorate, the elected representative is discounting the consent of the governed and delegitimizing the concerns and investment of the voters who paid the taxes. Precisely like the consumer who drinks alcoholic beverages and then insists they can drive home safely. Understanding the principles of legitimacy and consent is a prerequisite to clearly identifying the problems in government and then correcting course to right the ship of the state.
Does anyone want to return to the legal days when a rape victim is blamed for exciting the mind of the rapist who took sexual advantage and committed an act of violence? Does anyone want to return to 1900, when drunk driving was socially acceptable if you were rich enough? Does anyone want to cancel the speed limits and try to declare the lack of speed limitations makes roads safer? Of course not, so why do we, the electorate continue to allow for fiscal insanity with our tax dollars? Why should we ever accept another continuing resolution? Why should we even pay taxes when those spending the money have so egregiously spent our money until how many umpteenth-great-grandchildren are in debt to their eyeballs?
Please allow me to specify I am not advocating a person stop paying taxes and risk judiciary action! I am advocating understanding consent and legitimacy as keys to government power and how the power being exercised currently needs to be evaluated. You are free to reach opinions different than mine. I implore you to understand how legitimacy and consent of the governed lend the right to rule, in our constitutional republic, to the elected representatives.
Legitimacy and consent must be the number one motivating factor for every decision of those elected. Until we, the electorate, demand they change course, we will be forced to wash, rinse, and repeat until America is left an empty shell, her people driven into captivity by her enemies, and the American Dream is shattered for personal political power by those who we elected.
Returning to where we began, “A ruler needs legitimacy before all else, and legitimacy, in the end, must have its base in the consent of the governed.” Whether a ruler is a hereditary monarch, an elected representative, or a despotic tyrant, legitimacy and consent remain principles upon which power is derived. Absent either legitimacy or consent, the ruler has no power to govern; lacking power, that rule is either quickly deposed or will shortly be destroyed by those being abused in the name of governance. History is replete with examples of citizens who have rejected their consent after actions were taken that delegitimized the ruler’s power.
No, this is NOT a call for violence, merely a plea for understanding consent and legitimacy, evaluating what you see in each branch of government, and then making a personal decision to continue to grant consent or withhold consent from those who claim to “represent” you in the halls of government. How you choose is your choice, and you are free to make that choice. I know my choice and have already withdrawn my consent to be governed by the current elected representatives.
© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images. Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.