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The Consent of the Governed

In 1776 Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, wherein he declared, and the Congress ratified, that governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed.

The U.S. National Archives / Foter

Jefferson used the Declaration to make the case to the world that the British government was tyrannical, listing the grievances which proved the British crown’s loss of American popular consent.

Consent is the foundation upon which representative government rests. Our elected officials have a responsibility to protect the dignity of the office they hold. Often politics becomes about the popularity and personality of the person, rather than the service to the people that the office requires. To protect liberty, it is essential that we elect representatives of high character whose actions strengthen the public trust.

We the people have a responsibility as well. We must be informed and involved enough to ensure our local, state, and federal officials are behaving as they promised when they were elected. However, we also have the responsibility to ensure we don’t baselessly weaken the public trust ourselves. In order to truly be influential we must work within and through the institutions created at our country’s founding to effect the change we want. Angry protests and bomb throwing rhetoric are not only ineffective, but they endanger the principle of consent that our government rests upon. Just as those in office have to secure that trust, so do we as responsible citizens have a duty to protect it.

Dig Deeper:

Resource: Declaration of Independence

Podcast: Pointless protests

Editorial: Diminishing representative democracy

Podcast: Put your office first

Blog: Government stalks media

Blog: Big-government culture breeds scandals

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