Later this week we’ll be celebrating the the 237th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. You might recognize these words:
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.
The “life…liberty…happiness” phrase is what’s most often quoted, but it’s the next part that they fought a revolution over: Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
A few days ago, CNN asked Jimmy Carter for his reactions to Ed Snowden’s revalations about the massive NSA surveillance programs. Carter said Snowden’s actions were “probably, in the long term, beneficial”. Beneficial? How? Because, Carter said, “I think the American people deserve to know what their Congress is doing.”
In going from “consent of the goverened” to “know what their Congress is doing” we’ve lost a few steps, and we need to get them back.