…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…
Thomas Jefferson certainly had a way with words, such as these from the Declaration of Independence. No matter what political persuasion you prefer, unless of course you are a monarchist or a theocrat, Jefferson’s first fifteen words not only encapsulate the core of what Americans see as the proper relationship between the people and their government but succinctly describe where 21st Century America has more or less “gone off the rails.”
Even latter day totalitarian regimes have used the electoral fig leaf to claim that they are simply following Jefferson’s direction that their government has “the consent of the governed.” Saddam Hussein was elected, as was President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela just to name a few of the more conspicuous examples. They all claim to have been “elected”. Yet, it is inconceivable that any rational human would believe that in any of those nations that their respective governments could in any way have “the consent of the governed.”
Does America’s government today have the consent of the governed? I would argue that the answer to that simple question is no. When a majority of citizens have consistently voiced their opposition to Obamacare, does such a law have the consent of the governed?
When a significant majority of the citizens are very vocal in demanding less government intrusion in the area of private gun ownership while Senators like Schumer and Feinstein as well as the President himself are desperate to severely limit the rights of those citizens singled out in the 2nd Amendment, can any of them be said to be acting in a way that has the consent of the governed?
Yes, we have more or less honest elections in most places. No, we have never simply cancelled an election for the convenience of those in power. But do we really have a choice when we go into the voting booth? Are there are real differences between Democrats and Republicans, or is there merely a slight variation on a common theme between them?
Jefferson’s Declaration, again, states:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes…
Mr. Jefferson was correct in his statement that fundamentally changing a government is not something to done on a whim or because of a momentary annoyance. But it is the accumulation of those annoyances that must be viewed in their totality. Each step the government takes to reduce the ability of Americans to make choices for themselves and to succeed or fail without the aid or interference of any level of government is a step toward the same totalitarianism that is suffered by many other nations who still have “elections.”
I have heard people argue that the two party system works just fine, thank you, and we would be much worse off if a third party was created. Of course I’ve also heard people argue that global warming is settled science.
The thing that such defenders of the two party system either choose to forget (or those who want to put their ignorance on display) is that the Republican Party of today was itself a third party. An upstart party that gave us Abraham Lincoln, a party that strongly supported the abolition of slavery, a party that fought the socialist tendencies of Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and now Barack Obama. Unfortunately they aren’t very successful in the last example.
Now while Mr. Jefferson avers that we have a right and a duty to throw off any government if that government fails in its obligations to the people, not every method of change requires the use of force or bloodshed. The creation of the Republican Party itself is evidence that fundamental change can occur without a single shot being fired. Admittedly the question of slavery was central to the rise of Republicans, yet that rise signaled “the consent of the governed” by means of the ballot box, not the armory.
Today there is an embryonic third party in the form of the Tea Party Caucus within the Republican ranks. Democrats have been stymied in their march toward a form of national socialism by the efforts of the Tea Party Caucus. These Senators and Representatives are doing their best to deal with concepts such as balanced budgets, adherence to the underlying rationale of the Constitution, the idea that individuals are smart enough to make rational decisions for themselves and the thought that the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution are just campaign rhetoric. But according to the entire Democrat Party, as well as the propagandists who portray themselves as journalists and too many of their “fellow” Republicans view them as radicals. Of course those who were around in 1776 thought Jefferson, Franklin, Adams and the rest were radicals, too.
When there are only two parties, and they are fairly even in their popularity among the electorate, what incentive do they have to change? Bribing voters with their own money (or with money they borrow and then force voters to repay in the future) in return for their votes is a system that has worked fairly well for BOTH parties for nearly a century.
The fly in their ointment is that neither party represents much more than about one-third of registered voters. That leaves one-third up for grabs by a determined third party organization.
But, say critics, one needs a majority to govern. Absolutely true, and one can’t argue with that logic in a democratic republican form of government. But haven’t we seen a real mess made of governance when one party has a majority and is also in line with the political party of the President?
Let me suggest that the time has come for a revolution to “throw off” the government by two, and only two, corrupt political parties. Claims that Tea Party activists, running as independents, would split the Republican votes and allow the Democrats to take control of Congress has some underlying assumptions that are questionable. First, it is assumed that no one from the Tea Party could possibly be elected. I offer Marco Rubio and Rand Paul as evidence to the contrary. It is assumed that candidates who campaign on principle and not pandering could not be elected. I offer two more examples, namely Ron Paul and John Boehner. Ron Paul is nothing if not loud in his statements concerning the principles in which he believes, and Boehner has never request a pork-barrel inclusion in any bill for his district.
So the election of candidates who don’t pander, who stand for a recognizable principle can certainly be elected. Many members of the Tea Party Caucus in the House defeated Republican candidates in primary campaigns and then won clear majorities in the election.
I’d have to classify that as a rather profound change in governance if not in government.
And these same individuals have a good chance of being re-elected in 2014 using a very unique narrative for incumbents. Each can campaign on the fact that they stopped even more ridiculous government actions by Progressive-Democrats and go-along Republicans. Polls show that Americans want government “dialed back” and spending curtailed. Who better to campaign on those themes than Tea Party Caucus members or those with roots in the Tea Party?
Yes, nominally these candidates may be Republicans, yet they tend to spend more time fighting “go-along-to-get-along” Republicans than Democrats, yet they are the beginnings of a third party.
Or perhaps more accurately, if not obviously, they are the genesis of a second party.
I would hope Mr. Jefferson would view that as the 21st Century’s own version of Lexington and Concord, but without the smell of gunpowder.
This essay was originally published at Canada Free Press.