Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The consent of the governed

A column for which I took notes two years ago and failed to complete:

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 ...

This "governed" believes, as Henry David Thoreau said (and as Kirsten noted the other day in her must-read essay "Casting My Whole Vote"):
"I heartily accept the motto, — “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, — “That government is best which governs not at all” ..."
Voting is the process by which we are said to give our consent. All the more reason not to vote if you are fundamentally alarmed by the nature of your instituted government, especially if no one appears on the ballot who agrees with you.

The most profound summaries I know regarding government, beyond the pithy statement of Paine (and others) adapted by Thoreau, are these: "Government should defend our shores and deliver the mail and otherwise stay the hell out of my life" (former Wisconsin governor Lee Dreyfus) and "Government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem" (former president Ronald Reagan).

In contemporary times, one group of candidates has campaigned on such proposals as a single-payer health care system with government as the single payer and therefore (since Dreyfus' golden rule notes that "he who has the gold makes the rules") the arbiter of our health choices — no care for you if you smoke, eat too much, don't exercise regularly, etc.

Another group also wants the government dictating our life choices, only with a different emphasis — whom we may marry legally, for example. And both groups embrace this government's alleged right to send troops around the world to "protect our interests."

My perception of freedom is that what people do with their minds, bodies and property is their own business as long as they don't infringe on others' free use of their minds, bodies and property.

No one on the ballot speaks for freedom in these terms. "Lesser of two evils?" Surely you jest; the differences between these two opponents of liberty are negligible in the end. I am effectively disenfranchised. Therefore, I withdraw my consent and will not vote.

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Anonymous sunni said...


12:31 PM  

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