The ‘Consent Of The Governed’ Undermined
The declaration established the pre-eminence of individuals and our relationship with God, the Creator, who bestowed these blessings – these rights – upon all of us. We fought a Civil War to bring that truth to realization for all. Through Jefferson’s words, America’s founders made clear “that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Now, some people seem to believe that winning an election gives public officials enough consent, or a mandate, for their agenda – regardless of whether that agenda conflicts with the fundamentals of America as a constitutional republic.
Jefferson set forth an ideal where citizens are governed, not ruled, and where they have recourse if that social contract is broken. “When a long train of abuses and usurpation’s, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism,” he wrote, “it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such a government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”
Consider the arrogance of Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner after she was exposed as a key player in the scandal involving politically motivated investigations of tea party groups and other conservative outlets seeking nonprofit status. She made a statement to a congressional committee, pleaded her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and then departed the hearing room, soon thereafter to begin a taxpayer-funded “leave of absence.”
The Declaration of Independence expressed the people’s right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, resulting in one of our First Amendment rights. However, last week Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott suggested to six American citizens at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the IRS abuses that they do not have that right.
Former IRS Chairman Douglas Shulman was asked to explain some of the 157 trips he took to the White House. He responded with “Easter Egg Hunt.”
We had to endure Attorney General Eric Holder saying he knows nothing about the Justice Department secretly probing private communications of the press, only to learn later that he signed off on an affidavit for such. But he really did not mean it. And don’t forget his role in the gunrunning scandal Operation Fast and Furious.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told us during the healthcare debate a few years ago that Congress had to pass the bill in order to know what was in it. Now Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is soliciting private funding in order to finance the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
When Susan Rice can lie to the American people five times on Sunday talk shows and be rewarded with a promotion to National Security Advisor — or when Victoria Nuland can play a key part in altering intelligence talking points and be recommended for higher State Department post — the government lacks the accountability the declaration envisioned. But then again, as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “What difference does it make?”
We found out this week that the State Department allegedly has been covering up some disturbing behavior by some ambassadors and security detail personnel. I know, what difference does it make?
The difference is that we also now know that our own government is recording our communications data. We are told that these activities are all about ensuring national security, that the PRISM data-mining program and the PATRIOT Act that presumably allows it are necessary. President Obama told us “trade-offs” of our privacy are necessary to keep us secure.
But remember Benjamin Franklin’s warning: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
What happened with Anwar al-Awlaki, the jihadist with ties to al Qaeda eventually killed in a drone strike; with Maj. Nidal Hasan of the Fort Hood, Texas, terrorist attack; with the underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab; with Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber; with the Tsarnaev brothers of the Boston Marathon bombings; and with Carlos Bledsoe, who traveled to Somalia and Yemen for terrorist training and shot two Army soldiers? Why are 57 Islamic organizations, some with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, sending a letter to former counter-terrorism adviser and now-CIA Director John Brennan?
Why are we carpet-bombing American citizens while disregarding the enemy for precision scrutiny? Has cultural relativism and political correctness led us to the point where we all must be classified as being guilty of something to appease the sensitivities of others?
No, I do not subscribe to the belief that we must surrender civil liberties in order to be safer. That belief and the scandals discussed above have fueled a lack of trust between the governed and those occupying high elected offices.
If there is to be a next generation, we must re-establish the consent of the governed and discharge those who believe that lying, deception and the officialdom of arrogance is the new normal. We must find American leaders who will take responsibility and accountability for their actions, and we must not tolerate excuse-makers and deflectors.
The time for choosing is upon us all.
Steadfast and Loyal,
Allen B. West