Consent of the Governed is Democracy's Guiding Principle
Franklin, NC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 06/08/2010 -- Since consent of the governed is democracy’s guiding principle, how do we involve citizens once again in their government and gain consent of the governed? As we mentioned in our Franklin Press column on Notes on Quotes, we think it is time to establish a President’s Commission on National Goals to get citizens involved in setting goals for the future in areas like the Gulf oil crisis.
We looked at Google Trends in searches and found much interest in the 1942 World War ll Battle of Midway, the turning point of the war in the Pacific. Japan had experienced a series of victories in Malaya, Philippines, Indonesia and Pearl Harbor. Japan’s Admiral Yamamoto intended to break the back of American forces and use Midway as a base to conquer Hawaii. Yamamoto underestimated the ingenuity and courage of Naval and military forces under Admiral Chester Nimitz and the power of a unified United States of America. Americans like to study successful initiatives.
First the U. S. broke the Japanese code and learned of Japanese battle strategy for Midway. Next, Admiral Chester Nimitz convinced the shipyard to repair the aircraft carrier Yorktown (needed to gain adequate firepower) in 72 hours, instead of the required three months. A combination of U. S. attack planes from Midway and carrier aircraft launched from Enterprise, Yorktown and Hornet were too much for Japanese forces. The Japanese Navy headed home, crippled and in defeat. There was still a tough war ahead but the tide had turned in our favor.
Why the snapshot in time? Currently polls show Americans are angry. It is a time of frustration, much of it economic, and many people want to, “take their government back. “ In 1942, we had a “united,” United States of America and we had “consent of the governed,” a fundamental concept of democracy. Consent of the governed is earned through effective performance as well as two way communication. Energy independence and jobs promised have not materialized. Failure to deliver on promises is a good way to lose consent of the governed.
How do we get the American public more involved, since involvement is important in consent? President Dwight Eisenhower’s establishment of the President’s Commission on National Goals during his administration was an excellent way for experts and the American public to come together and set goals. We support goals that we have helped set. Eisenhower made it a practice to dine with Americans from all walks of life and discuss ideas. The U. S. Presidency has become more isolated in recent terms with less focus on two way communication with the American public.
According to the U. S. Declaration of Independence in order to maintain life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from consent of the governed.” Wars, emergencies, and other national matters are best dealt with when consent of the governed is present. With the Gulf oil crises going into high gear, it is imperative that President Obama move forward on establishing a President's Commission on Goals with public involvement on our nation's future.
In February, 2010 a Rasmussen Reports survey found that 61 percent of the American public believe our government does not have consent of the governed. What does consent of the governed require? It requires more than one way communication. Some presidents and members of the U. S. Congress do well at communication during the election but let that skill diminish afterwards. It is never too late for our leaders to reach out and involve the American public in decision making.
Our founding fathers established a government by and for the people. The Declaration of Independence declares that government derives power from the people. Elections are nearing. We establish consent of the governed through our election system. Power tempered by consent of the governed is a concept many of our U.S. soldiers gave their lives to preserve. Thomas Jefferson says it best, “That government is the strongest of which every man feels himself a part.” Isn’t it time to involve citizens in setting goals through a President’s Commission on National Goals? Lincoln speaks to us today through the Gettysburg Address in our time of crisis, "-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." We hope journalists and bloggers will get behind this idea of involving the public in a time of crisis.
Gordon Mercer is international president of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and a professor of political science. Marcia Mercer is a writer and columnist. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of other organizations. Go to http://www.notesonquotes.com to review all past quotes and columns on leadership.