Legitimacy of Government

One of the subjects of taboo recognized nearly worldwide is that of politics. For one reason or another there exists reluctance to openly debate the one item which most severely affects daily life for every human on the face of the earth. Namely, what is the best form of government? Before one is able to determine the best form of government he must first determine the intended purpose of government.

In general, the purpose of government is to protect the citizens; the methodology and scope of this protection varies widely between nations and political ideology. However, if protection is the ultimate purpose of government then why is coercion and restriction such an immense portion of governmental control? Would not a government be able to simply stand watch at the borders while allowing the citizens to control their own lives within the political boundaries? Why are there so many regulations and commands if the goal is protection? Many people are likely to be happy being docile and obedient in exchange for the illusion of freedom and security but for those who desire true liberty nothing less than self governance is acceptable.
The ancient governments of Europe claimed to have received their authority to rule from God. Nobody was able to vote for their King, he was simply chosen as the proper leader by methods beyond the control of the masses. Eventually the people discovered that this was bunk and were able to get “representatives” in Parliament but very little else had changed. The legitimacy of strangers ruling their lives was never questioned. The Founding Fathers realized that the people were the source of all the power and attempted to create a government which would protect this right. While it is true that they made enormous leaps in the concepts of limited government, there remains a long way to go.

The American Republic is considered to be a representative democracy with power divided between a central government, the various state governments, and the people themselves. Depending upon one’s ideology and education, the Founders intended to allow individuals to promote themselves unhindered within a free society while leaving the various protections to the realm of government. Today we have a government which alleges to receive its powers from the people (those who actually voted being dead some 200 years). We elect so-called representatives who are supposed to rule with our best interests in mind. The popular mantra being “consent of the governed.”

The problem is that a ruler will always be a ruler regardless of where the source of power allegedly comes from. Whether our government claims its legitimacy through anointment by God or by consent from dead guys in history, the people still do not have the ability to choose their government. About a century and a half ago a great many of the American population decided they would prefer to be under a different government. As with all differences of opinion of this magnitude, it took a war with much bloodshed to force those dissenting to remain in the Union. So much for consent of the governed.

If you pick a random Demoblican from off the street and ask their opinion of various government policies and actions you will likely get one of a small handful of canned responses, none of which address the legitimacy of government to begin with. There exists almost a complete acceptance of being ruled by a government which becomes ever more intrusive into our daily lives with each passing day. This expansion of power is justified by claims of protection against an ever increasing variety of dangers: cigarettes, lead, speed, drugs, terrorists, and even ignorance. They lull the public into thinking government policies are helpful by coining such phrases as the War on Terror, War on Drugs, War on Poverty, and on and on. In actuality the only war going on is the War on Liberty.

The only legitimate government is one which allows citizens to peaceably remove themselves from the grasp of its authority. Where there is no consent, there is no legitimacy.

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