Did You Consent To Be Governed?
The Myth of Political Consent
by James Ostrowski
This is an excerpt from Direct Citizen Action: How We Can Win the Second American Revolution Without Firing a Shot.
Permit me to digress into a discussion of the meaning of political consent and its withdrawal. I am not saying that the American people ever explicitly consented to be ruled by the regime on the Potomac, or that they are parties to some mysterious Social Contract that implies their consent. That is all utter nonsense and propaganda. I know I never consented to be ruled by a regime that I have strongly opposed since my teenage years. Nor have I ever signed a Social Contract allowing them to rule over me. I’d be a jackass if I had.
To the best of my knowledge, no living American ever signed a contract to be ruled by the creepy politicians in DC. There are people long dead who signed a proposed Constitution and there are 11791 people long dead who voted at state conventions to ratify the Constitution. However, no living American ever agreed to be bound by the consent to be governed apparently given by people long dead that they did not know.
Libertarian legal scholar Randy Barnett has brilliantly refuted all possible theories of how citizens can be found to have implicitly consented to be ruled when it is perfectly obvious that they have not explicitly consented. See, Restoring the Lost Constitution (2004), pp. 11 et seq.
Voting does not imply consent as we never get to vote on the legitimacy of the regime itself. And what if you vote against the regime as I have done in every election since I was allowed to vote? How in the world can that be construed as consent? Well, I played the game. Okay, so if I stop voting, I have withdrawn my consent? That’s a bargain! I will stop voting, withdraw my consent and the tax bills will cease. Hurray! Yeah, but you could have played the game, they will say. Barnett replies: “It is a queer kind of ‘consent’ where there is no way to refuse one’s consent.” (p. 16). Barnett goes on to demolish all the familiar rationalizations for why average citizens have “consented” to be governed by political thugs in DC: