Consent of the Governed

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5 mins read

“The beach at the Oceanfront was closed. But the crowds were large.”

That’s the headline of an article in The Virginian-Pilot Saturday, May 16, 2020. The Virginia Governor started easing up on the state-imposed lockdown the Friday before, May 15, but the beaches were supposed to be “closed” that Saturday, unless folks were exercising or fishing.

Some Virginians and visitors from surrounding states had a different plan.

“The Virginia Beach Oceanfront felt like summer in more ways than one Saturday as children ordered “blue and lellow (sic)” snow cones and bought hermit crabs, shoppers sampled fudge inside cramped gift shops and bikers pedaled on the boardwalk — with the usual complaints of people walking in the bike lane,” according to the article’s author.

This is just one, benign example of what happens when people dissent, when they decide they don’t like the “rules.”

“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.” – The Declaration of Independence

“The consent of the governed” isn’t just some idea that political theorists discuss. The Founding Fathers weren’t just trying to be eloquent. “Consent of the governed” is a description of reality. In the real world, at least in U.S.A., Americans consent to laws and agree to allow law enforcement to enforce those laws.

Earlier this month, Port of Seattle Police Officer Greg Anderson shared his concerns about the actions of some of his fellow law enforcement officers. It’s a good video. He said what many Americans are already thinking. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you give it a watch.

I want to highlight one of his comments.

Anderson said, “our power that we hold as law enforcement officers is nothing more than a facade. I’m afraid that these actions are going to wake a sleeping giant, i.e. the American people. They are going to be put in a position where they won’t have their rights trampled any more, and us law enforcement officers, we’ll have our ability to enforce the law stripped from us in about 10 minutes.”

Anderson understands what consent of the governed really means. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that law enforcement authority is a “facade,” but it is an authority that is given from the People. The People can take it back whenever they want. That’s the reality.

If City Councils, or Governors, or Congress overreach their authority, if impose enough laws that the People don’t approve of, then Americans might decide that it’s “necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another.”

Update 5/28/2020

My original posts discusses a peaceful dissent. Americans withdrew their consent and went to the beach to enjoy the surf and sun. But dissent doesn’t have to be peaceful. More often than not, it is violent.

The latest story to make national headlines is that of George Floyd.

Fires burn in Minneapolis overnight as George Floyd protests continue

MINNEAPOLIS — Multiple buildings, including businesses, homes and a construction site were engulfed in flames Thursday morning as fire crews across Minneapolis worked to contain the blaze. KHOU 11

When enough people decide to break the rules, there isn’t much law enforcement can do to stop it.

American son of the Appalachian mountains. Happily married father of several and devoted man of God. Hold fast.

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