Friday, August 28, 2009

The consent of the enslaved

The only way you can become a slave is with your permission.

"All men are created equal ... endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights ... among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ... to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Those are carefully chosen words, and today I'm thinking about the last 10. Governments tend to claim as much power as they can, but their just powers — those that are appropriate and (dare we say) legal — those powers can only be exercised when "the governed" approve or consent.

The reason government can only function with the consent of the governed is that we are created equal: No one can enslave you without your permission.

This idea is a radical departure from the status quo of 1776, which held that George III was in charge because the fact of his birth into the royal family made him more suited to govern than the rest of us commoners. From the Declaration of Independence onward, the caretakers of government were to be hired by all of us as equals, wielding only the powers we allow them to wield.

Ever since then, a large percentage of those hired caretakers have desired to seize the reins that George III once held. But they can't claim that authority by divine right; they have to obtain consent.

And that's where the concept of the political advertisement came from.

By the time a well-crafted campaign is done, you are so full of fear about what may become of you as a free man or woman that you're practically begging for a particular man, woman or program to take the liberty you've had since birth. How can you, an educated man or woman, make decisions for yourself about your own life? You must elect someone to handle the controls of your life.

It's all for the noblest of purposes: To feed the poor, to protect the land, to provide for the common good. Slavery is safe and secure and easy. Liberty is hard work. Next thing you know, you're ensnared.

Listen carefully when these charlatans promise to make life better for you — ask yourself, at what cost? What are they asking you to surrender in exchange for better health care, safer borders, energy independence, a full belly, cleaner air and water? There's always a price.

Concerned about our increasingly totalitarian world? It's happening because the architects of the police state have your permission — the consent of the governed. Solution? Start acting like you're free.

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