Governed By Consent

On July 4th, 1776, the Continental Congress unanimously voted to adopt The Declaration of Independence. In the hearts and minds of modern Americans, this is a profound moment in our national history. It did not occur in a vacuum, however.

Although, we celebrate the adoption of this historic document, the first Continental Congress actually declared independence on July 2nd, 1776 as the British fleet sailed into New York Harbor. The establishment of a sovereign nation and the declaration of its independence was part of a long political process full of committees, resolutions, and document revisions in which numerous votes where cast.

In the preamble of that declaration, our Founding Fathers state:

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 . . .

“Deriving their just powers from the consent of those governed”—whether or not you go to the polls, you give your consent. Whether you voice you opinions in the solitude of your own kitchen, or proclaim them in public, you give your consent.

Our government is not only governed by the proactive votes of those who do go to the polls, but by the passive non-votes of those who do not. If you are not taking the time to vote against measures you disagree with, you are giving your consent to them. If you do not take the time to vote for the candidate that you support, you consent to the election of his or her opponent.

You are entitled to your opinion. In fact, our Constitution guarantees the right to express it—in private or in public, but if you do not take action, your opinion is the mere squawking of an idle individual who gives consent to be governed by others.