The Consent of the Governed
The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
That governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed is a powerful idea. For most of this world’s history it has been a revolutionary principle—though it is both a universal and eternal principle. Our own conscience tells us so.
Ezra Taft Benson, who served both as a US Secretary of Agriculture and as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught us a very clear and simple truth about how to determine whether a principle is constitutional or not. He said the following.
“There is one simple test to the constitutionality of a principle. ‘Do I as an individual have a right to use force upon my neighbor to accomplish this goal?’ If I do, then I may delegate that power to my government to exercise it in my behalf. If I do not have that right, I cannot delegate it. If we permit government to manufacture its own authority and to create self-proclaimed powers not delegated to it by the people, then the creature exceeds the creator and becomes master. Who is to say, ‘this far but no farther?’ What clear principle will stay the hand of government from reaching farther and farther into our daily lives?”
"Grover Cleveland said, ‘that though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.’
"Once government steps over this clear line between the protective or negative role into the aggressive role of redistributing the wealth through taxation and providing so-called benefits for some of its citizens, it becomes a means for legalized plunder. Examples abound in the world of the failure of alternative systems to the free market. What amazes me is that we cannot see from their example the obvious failure of socialism. What it does to a nation’s economy and how it morally debilitates a people.” (You can hear a longer version of his statement on youtube.)
As we examine any law or policy of government in the light of this principle we can quickly determine whether that law or policy is moral and whether it is constitutional. Clearly the so-called Affordable Care Act (i.e. ObamaCare) would not be Constitutional, for example. No one has the right to fine or imprison a neighbor because that neighbor refuses to purchase a mandated product or service.
The Constitution is a moral document. We ignore it at our peril.
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Orem, Utah—2 December 2013—©2013 Daniel Kemper Lubben
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