The Consent of the Governed

By Paul Gable

Among its many memorable phrases, the Declaration of Independence states, “…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,..”

Too often, governments, or the people who run them, forget about the people. They become too concentrated on personal agendas or too impressed with their own perceived importance.

In the United States, we have a form of representative democracy in our local, state and federal governments. When governments become destructive with respect to the ends desired by the people, the people vote out representatives and replace them with others more in tune with their wishes.

We have seen this result in recent local elections where incumbent officeholders were voted out in two different city elections, the school board, a state legislative seat and the Horry County Council Chairman.

None of the losers are bad persons, they just lost touch with the people whose consent they needed to stay in office.

A few of their transgressions include:

  • Questionable land purchases with public dollars, often discussed in secret, while public infrastructure needs are ignored
  • Selective use of the Freedom of Information Act provisions to avoid disclosing information the public has a right to know
  • Ignoring public safety needs at the expense of the welfare of first responders and the citizens they protect
  • Public disagreements with other elected officials resulting in needless lawsuits that waste public dollars rather than using those dollars for improved service
  • Economic development trips to China with no results
  • Strict adherence to boondoggles such as Interstate 73 while more pressing infrastructure needs go unmet

The above is not a comprehensive list, just the more egregious examples of elected officials being out of touch with local citizens and their needs.

Recent elections have begun a trend where voters expect their elected representatives to actually represent them and address their needs otherwise alternative candidates will be selected.

In a representative democracy, the “consent of the governed” cannot be ignored forever or the governed will declare their independence from current elected officials.


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