Most people agree that sex ought to be consensual.
Put another way, they think that no one should be forced to have sex against their will. And that if someone engages in sex without the consent of the other party, then it is sexual assault – and a moral horror.
Well, what about being governed without consent?
Does it not amount to the same thing?
Another person – or persons – force themselves on you. They violate you. They – or their proxies – literally lay hands on you if you attempt to get away or refuse to submit to them.
It may not be a sexual assault, but it is certainly assault.
There is one difference, of course.
The people who compose the government and the people who support what it does to you claim you have consented. This necessary claim – without consent, their actions are obviously assault – is asserted so frequently and so early that it becomes rote despite being obviously untrue. Kids hear of it in elementary school, where they are taught to venerate the man who had the audacity to speak of the “consent of the governed” while repudiating it through force of arms.
Consent means: permission given for something to happen or an agreement to do something.
Implicit in this – without which the word has no meaning – is the option to not give permission; to decline to agree to do something. Otherwise, you’re simply told what you will do and your only choice is to accept it or accept being punished for not accepting it.
Isn’t the latter precisely the true nature of our relationship to the government?
Some will say you do have a say – that you may vote. But that is not the same thing as giving your consent and it certainly doesn’t give you the right to consent for others.
Which is an absurdity.
Voting amounts to being presented with usually disagreeable choices not of your own making and no option to refuse any of them. If you don’t vote, others choose – and by some evil transmutation, the choices of these other people become (legally) binding on you.
How can this be characterized as the “consent of the governed”?
It’s clever wordplay, that’s all. Of a piece with the elegant preface to that contract none of us consented to called the Constitution of the United States. It states: “We, the People. . . ”
It really means: A few people. The literal handful of men who gathered in secret and without any mandate from other people let alone We, the People – to write this document, which they then managed to get a slightly larger but still minuscule number of supposed “representatives” of the people to accept on their behalf but without their consent.
Votes were taken, certainly. And it is equally true that some did in fact approve. A majority of a very small minority. But no contract was presented to every American for his agreement or not. Which – if words have meaning – means those Americans never consented to be governed by it. Their consent was simply presumed – exactly in the same way that a rapist sometimes claims she meant “yes” even though she said “no.”
One may say that the logistics involved in presenting a contract to every American for his approval – or not – would be difficult. Absolutely. But it does not affect the question of consent. People either did – or they did not.