Monday, September 15, 2008

Consent of the Governed

What does it mean to vote in a political election to you? Does it mean you are making your voice heard? Does it mean you are securing your right to complain about the outcome? Or does it mean that you are giving your consent to be governed? To me, it's that last one.

The American Declaration of Independence, signed in 1776, contains these words:

"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..."

What this means is that the powers that government derives are only just if derived from the consent of the governed. Further, consent is given to the government by the process of voting for our representatives. Therefore, it follows, that voting for someone is giving them our consent to govern us.

Now the big question: Who among the available choices, for all of the available positions, can you give your full consent to govern you? This is a very important question that must be answered by everyone who plans on voting come November 4th.

How do we answer it? Ask yourself who among the available choices represents your values and ideals. Do any of them? Consider whether or not you should vote out of principle, meaning that candidate that represents every one of your ideals, or out of convenience, meaning that candidate that represents most of your ideals. Remember, you are giving your consent to be governed by this person.

Is it okay to not vote and still retain your right to complain about the outcome? I believe it is and I also believe that voting actually diminishes your right to complain, if who you have voted for wins. After all, how much can I complain if I've given my consent to be governed to someone who screws up? My right to complain turns into my right to be ashamed. If I chose not to give my consent to any of the available options, or if who I vote for loses, my right to complain is enhanced. These things should be remembered.

So who am I going to vote for? The more accurate question is: Who is going to receive my consent to govern me?

For those of us who vote out of principle, we are given the ability to write-in a name on our ballot. The only person who represents every one of my values and ideals and can receive my full and total consent to govern me... is me.