The Consent of the Governed – A Further Discussion

QuestionThe Virginia Declaration of Rights prefixed the Virginia Colony’s constitution and was written by a reluctant statesman and largest landowner, George Mason.  In sixteen statements on government and the rights of man, we find the consent of the governed and the need for controls on government pertinent to our day and time.  For this article, we are focused upon the first three articles in the Declaration of Rights and the fundamental principles of liberty that must be refreshed and revisited often to maintain a government of the people, by the people, for the people, and where the consent of the governed is respected.

      1. All men are by nature equally free and independent, have certain inherent rights, … namely the enjoyment of life and liberty, possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”

This first declaration is important for several reasons. The first is that it places responsibility upon the individual made free to maintain their rights by exercising those rights responsibly and in a manner that the government expects.  How the government is expected to behave is modeled on how people in society behave.  Hence, freedom is a double-edged sword; want to keep your liberties, the way you act is how the government will act.The Duty of Americans

      1. All power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that magistrates are their trustees and servants and at all times amenable to them.”

Have you ever had a bureaucrat treat you like you are scum; well, maybe it is time we reminded them of this principle!  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is regularly documented on this blog as abusing, killing, and harming veteran patients.  I use this principle as the backbone of logic to try and reprimand Congress and the VA into improving their behavior.  I document the behavior of the US Postal Service, the different state Departments of Motor Vehicles, and other government agencies for abusing the taxpayers and acting like feudal lords instead of public servants.

Amenable is described as agreeable, ready to consent, willing to accept a suggestion, or submit to authority.  How many times has a bureaucrat treated you in an amenable manner?  Heck, having worked with them as a fellow employee, I can affirm they are not amenable to their bosses, let alone the customers.  There is a cultural problem in the bureaucratic mind, rejecting all authority as they are protected by labor unions and a quagmire of laws!  Do you think this should be changed for the benefit of the public good?Plato 2

      1. Government is or ought to be instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people. … A majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.”

I realize the language here is a bit old-fashioned.  All right, a LOT old-fashioned.  Let’s break this down.

        • Indubitable: Anything that is so plain that doubt cannot be admitted is indubitable. For example, water is wet.  If I throw water on you, you will get wet.
        • Unalienable: Also known in legal documents as inalienable. Describing something that cannot be separated from a whole, given away, taken by another, or discharged without destroying the whole.
        • Indefeasible: Anything that cannot be voided, annulled, or defeated; something permanent. This is mostly a legal term.
        • Public Weal: A way of saying public good, the public well being, or the prosperity of the general public, not just the special interests, select citizens, etc., but all citizens.

Mr. Mason is declaring here in the third article that governments can be reigned in, changed, abolished, and remade if the majority of the citizens demand it and if the changes are beneficial for the public good and prosperity.  Consider this for a moment; since Jan/Feb 2020, America, and the world, has witnessed runaway totalitarian government hysteria over a viral infection with a 98%+ survival rate.  As a scientific fact, the annual flu is more dangerous than COVID-19 globally; yet, the flu does not shut down a business, close schools, and ruin economies.  Since the start of COVID, there has not been any Flu-related deaths or Flu-related illness at all.  Doesn’t this raise some serious concerns in the COVID-Mandates and measures?quote-mans-inhumanity

Using the pattern outlined by Mr. Mason, the people being represented can withhold their consent to be governed, reject the current government, or eliminate the current government and start a new government if the changes are more beneficial to the public good.  I find this pattern interesting both in a philosophical and academic sense and in a practical sense.  Long have I argued that the officers of government should have a fear of the ballot box and the people they are responsible for representing.  The insanity we are experiencing because the politicians have gerrymandered the congressional districts to protect their election results is not ethical or moral and is barely legal.

No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles” [emphasis mine].

          • Justice: Decency to all as a behavior of equality and commitment to moral rightness.
          • Moderation: This is all about not going to extremes, being restrained, knowing the boundaries and staying within limits, and being reasonable and approachable.
          • Temperance: While primarily used in drinking alcohol, this also applies to any behaviors where self-restraint, moderation, and expressions or observance of temperate behaviors are required.
          • Frugality: Besides being a good steward of other people’s resources, being frugal requires being sparing, prudent, economical, thrifty, and reserved.
          • Virtue: Requires moral excellence, modesty, personal dignity, goodness, and conformity to a standard of righteousness.

Knowledge Check!The Eagles sing a song called “Lyin’ Eyes,” in which truth is revealed:

There ain’t no way to hide your lyin’ eyes!”

Look to the politicians.  I do not care about your political affiliation.  Take an honest look at them, their deeds, and their faces; can you see their lying eyes?  Use the pattern discussed above; are the politicians in public office right now frugal with your hard-earned tax dollars?  Do they practice virtue in public and private?  What about moderation and temperance?  Do they perform their jobs with justice and moderation?  If so, do they deserve your vote to stay in office?  If not, do they earn your vote to remain in office?Scared Eyes!

Better, would you trust them to watch your children in your home while you went out to dinner with your significant other?  Your consent to be governed is expressed firstly in the ballot box, next in the actions you take, and then in your investment in trusting that person to continue under supervision.  Too many local politicians have set up permanent camps because Federal politics is so amazingly in-your-face atrocious and attention-grabbing.  But, your local school board wields considerable power that affects you more directly, and they get away with abysmal behavior while the focus is on State and Federal elections and politics.

Local judges have set up horrible empires of inefficiency, dastardly inefficient and unjust, almost criminal courtrooms, while the attention is focused elsewhere.  Mayors, County Supervisors, City Councils, and the list goes on and on of political empires designed to do serious and lasting harm, steal your consent to be governed, and ruin America, all because the focus is on the more noticed elections at the state and federal levels.Modesty

America, tell me, is the government you witness daily the government you deserve?  What about the other representative governments across the globe?  Australia, has your government overstepped its legal authority and demonstrated enough contempt for the consent of the governed?  China, has your government punished you sufficiently to consider a change of government?  Hong Kong, you are being punished for agreeing to a treaty that was full of pie-crust promises, and your productivity has been propping the unjust communist regime since you joined the mainland.  Have you had enough yet?

LookI weep for Venezuela, Cuba, Brazil, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and so many other countries where the people’s voice was twisted, distorted, stolen, or outright silenced to implant a government that does not represent the people.  But, the principles remain the same; your consent to be governed remains the tinder upon which your money is exchanged.  Your consent to be governed remains the trust used to keep unjust regimes and totalitarian officers in office.  Your consent to be governed is the straw that will break the camels back and force changes to government.  If the last century has taught us anything, when the people have had enough, collectively stand, and refuse their consent to be governed, blessed change will come, and governments crumble and blow away like dust in heavy winds!

Let us withhold our consent to be governed until the government starts listening to us, not the special interests, their own capacious egos, and monied influencers!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

“All Power is … Derived From The People.” – The Consent of the Governed

cropped-2012-08-13-07-37-28-1.jpgIf you are browsing a second-hand bookstore and come across the book “We, The People: Great Documents of the American Nation” by Jerome B. Agel, I recommend picking the book up and adding it to your library.  I have not found a better book discussing the founding documents of this great American Republic.  It is historically accurate, provides insights, and is a treasure of wisdom and knowledge.

A phrase in the Declaration of Independence has always captured my imagination and held fast to my mental processes.  “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  It has always been understood that men invented governments for the ruling of other men.  Rome was a perfect example of this principle, and in writing down the laws, the first attempt at a moral government responsible to the people was attempted.  However, it is the second part of that phrase that we are discussing, “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Consider this principle for a moment. First, governments have just and unjust powers, and second, the powers originate with the consent of the populations agreeing to be governed by the government.  Czarist Russia is an excellent example from history where the people had enough and began looking around for a new government.  That the people were hoodwinked and communism was imposed upon them remains one of the great tragedies of the last century.  In less than 100-years, Russia went through two incredible government upheavals is mentally incredible to consider.Plato 2

Unjust powers of government are those powers governments assume where the people have not granted them consent of the governed.  When governments take enough of these powers upon themselves, the population’s revolution, anger, and frustration are the only outcomes possible.  Worse, the governments are breaking their laws and the trust of those who elected them, proving that the most dangerous person is an honest person betrayed.

Bobblehead DollAll of which is mentioned as we discuss the origin of the philosophy of the consent of the governed in American jurisprudence.  Virginia, 1776, The Virginia Declaration of Rights prefixed the Virginia Colony’s constitution and was written by a reluctant statesman and largest landowner, George Mason.  In sixteen statements on government and the rights of man, we find the consent of the governed and the need for controls on government pertinent to our day and time!

      1. “All men are by nature equally free and independent, have certain inherent rights, … namely the enjoyment of life and liberty, possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”
      2. “All power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times amenable to them.”
      3. “Government is or ought to be instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people. … A majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.”
      4. “No man, or set of men, are entitled to exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges from the community.”
      5. The state’s legislative and executive powers are separate from the judiciary, and the operatives return to being citizens after their respective terms in office, in accordance with the laws of the land. [Edited for brevity]
      6. Contains three principles of import:
          • Elections should be free and open to all.
          • Property cannot be taxed or deprived for public use without consent.
          • Those elected are bound to the same laws as the citizens.
      7. “All power suspending laws or the execution of laws by any authority without consent of the representatives of the people is injurious to their rights and ought not to be exercised.”
      8. Deals with a criminal trial, due process, speedy trials, a jury trial, and a unanimous jury.
      9. Deals with fines, bail, and cruel or unusual punishments.
      10. Deals with search and seizure requiring evidence of a crime and the need for a warrant to be based upon evidence or not to be granted.
      11. Holds sacred the rights to a jury trial, including for disputes between two people over non-criminal issues.
      12. Holds sacred the power of the press as a bulwark of liberty, and restraining the press is an action of despotic governments.
      13. Details that standing armies in peacetime should be avoided and a well-regulated militia is proper and natural for the defense of the state. Important to note, “the military should at all times be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”
      14. Demands uniform government that applies to all people.
      15. Declares that “No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”
      16. Declares that “Religion, or the duty we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence, and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience, and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”

Let’s Discuss

Are we in trouble? We didn't do it!!!
Are we in trouble? We didn’t do it!!!

In opening the discussion, one of the most egregious and despicable actions witnessed every year is the failure to follow the strictures of a peaceful society as required in the 16th statement, to practice the “mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”  Having been a student of religion, I have found no religious stricture, in any organized religious teaching, to living in harmony with others by practicing forbearance (tolerance, patience, and kindness), love (respect, kindness, gentleness, meekness, all unfeigned), and charity (service) to those in our society.  Atheists, this includes you; it is time to live in harmony with others and stop the lawfare.  If someone is not violently demanding you adhere to their religion and religious tenets, then leave them alone!

I Find the following extremely important to the news developed, especially over the last two weeks.  “No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles” [emphasis mine].  Let’s break this down:

      • Justice: Decency to all as a behavior of equality and commitment to moral rightness.
      • Moderation: This is all about not going to extremes, being restrained, knowing the boundaries and staying within limits, and being reasonable and approachable.
      • Temperance: While primarily used in drinking alcohol, this also applies to any behaviors where self-restraint, moderation, and expressions or observance of temperate behaviors are required.
      • Frugality: Besides being a good steward of other people’s resources, being frugal requires being sparing, prudent, economical, thrifty, and reserved.
      • Virtue: Requires moral excellence, modesty, personal dignity, goodness, and conformity to a standard of righteousness.

Knowledge Check!These are fundamental principles of liberty and the foundation upon which government is built and sustained.  How often do you hear politicians discussing these terms, returning to these principles as terms to write laws worthy of printing for society or as standards for scrutinizing the government agencies?  What did we observe in government this week that adhered to any of these fundamental principles to America or any other government succeeding in the past week?  Does anyone argue that Gov. Cuomo’s actions in New York were virtuous?  Were the CDC Director’s edicts frugal, temperate, moderate, or just?  How about the reaction by Congress to the mandates by the CDC?  Did they perform their jobs to scrutinize the legislative branch using these principles?

Now, some will decry that this is a document solely for the Commonwealth of Virginia and does not apply to the entire United States.  Yet, I would counter that the principles and language of this document are interwoven into the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, the US Bill of Rights, and every other founding document and US State Constitution.  Thus, why could we not use The Virginia Declaration of Rights as a template to benchmark and measure the performance of politicians and bureaucrats?Image - Eagle & Flag

Fundamental principles do not age, expire, or possess a shelf-life.  Hence, knowledge of the fundamentals empowers action by the electorate to change, correct, and demand government adherence, for we are the owners of our representative government.  We, the electorate, need to teach these fundamental lessons to the politicians, then demand they adhere and hold accountable the bureaucrats to the fundamental principles of liberty, or we all lose this precious government of the people, by the people, and for the people, where the consent of the governed is respected.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.