How do we Consent to be Governed?

Published on 20 July 2022 at 06:49

A society is defined as a social contract between a government with limited powers and those who consent to be governed. How people consent to a social contract is sometimes difficult to conceptualize. Our Founders signed the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, but no future generations signed on to any of these documents. So how do Americans consent to be governed by the social contract that is written in the Declaration of Independence and the laws that are written in the Constitution? Philosopher John Locke proposes that there is a tacit or implied consent to be governed. People who own property or use government resources such as the Post Office, roads, and expect protection from the police, fire department, and military tacitly consent to be governed by the laws of that society. [i] Additionally, the act of voting for our government officials is perceived as tacit consent. Military personnel, immigrants who become citizens, lawyers, and other public officials who take an oath to uphold the Constitution consent to be governed.  All that said, Americans do not consent to be governed by laws or government that operate outside its responsibility or grants of power. The Declaration of Independence or social contract states that the people are in their right to dissolve disobedient governments. In my opinion, our current government is more tyrannical than the one the colonists faced from England that necessitated a revolutionary war. We are more divided, taxes are higher, debt is a taxation without representation on our youth, crime is higher, our borders are more insecure, and we face more restrictions on our fundamental right to religion, free speech, to own property, to obtain knowledge, and to work to name a few. I am certainly not advocating for a revolution or violence, but I do believe we need to do a better job educating Americans about history and the Constitution to hold our elected officials responsible for their actions. 


[i] John Locke, The Second Treaties of Government, The Liberal Arts Press, New York NY, 1952, xv

Add comment


There are no comments yet.