Why do we have government?
We can answer this with several answers, but I’d like to take a look at the answer as found in our Declaration of Independence:
…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, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security…
We, as people, have certain inalienable rights given to us by our Creator (not, as many would erroneously assert, by our government). It is the purpose of government, therefore, to make these rights secure, with the consent of the governed. Right? We can see this here. But if a form of government becomes hostile to the purpose of securing these rights—and even begins to serve its own interests in opposition of the governed—it is not only the right but the duty of the people to set it right again. This is a simplistic, yet accurate, way of summing up the purpose of government according to one of our founding documents.
To be clear, it is the government who serves the people, and the people who are in charge of all. Without consent of those who would be governed, those who would govern err as usurpers. They are in the wrong, and it is the right and duty of the people to set the government right by amending or abolishing and reforming government such that it once again serves its original purpose of serving the people.
Why do I mention this?
Because I believe the consent of the governed has been withdrawn. Lets take a look at what I mean.
For a long time, we’ve understood that Congress—those responsible for creating the laws of the land—has had a terrible approval record. According to a recent Gallup poll (14 November), the approval rate for Congress is now in the garbage heap at only 13%. In fact, the active disapproval rate now stands at 82%! This is astounding, and clearly not a sign of consent by the governed. Interestingly, the lowest approval levels reside with independents at 11% and highest with Democrats at only 15%—terrible across the board.
Approval of President Obama, according to a Gallup poll from today, indicates another minority number of 43%—worse than Jimmy Carter’s approval during this stage of his presidency and 12% less than George W. Bush’s approval during this respective stage of his presidency.
I cannot find how this qualifies as consent. Add the approval of Congress and the President together and you’ve barely got a majority. And the interesting thing (to me) is that whether the person in office wears a donkey or elephant as a badge, approval numbers continue to slide.
Maybe it’s time to “alter” or “abolish” this government and start from scratch. It seems that Jefferson—who contributed significantly to our nation’s founding (and the Declaration of Independence)—thought this would be something we’d do on a much more frequent basis, when he said, “God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion.”
To those who would presume to govern—amend your ways, lest such amendment be done for you, rightfully, by the people.