The Consent of the Governed

“Evil is ancient, unchanging, and with us always. The more postmodern the West becomes — affluent, leisured, nursed on moral equivalence, utopian pacifism, and multicultural relativism — the more premodern the evil among us seems to arise in nihilistic response.” Victor Davis Hanson

Conservative commentator Hanson explains that ancient Greek city-states Athens and Sparta were “antithetical powers.”

Their cultures were very different. Athens was a seaport, dependent on trade. Sparta was landlocked, relying on agriculture. Athens’ government was an aristocratic democracy. Sparta’s, more egalitarian.

America is a country with two vastly different cultures. Vying for influence, the liberal cosmopolitan perspective, more concentrated in our cities, stands in contrast to the traditional way of the countryside.

The Athenses of America today wrestle with unrest, high taxes, exploding costs, or to sum it all up, urban decay.

Many of the modern Spartas have high rates of joblessness and drug addiction–in other words, rural decay.

Neither place is a panacea.

But many in the country still pursue traditional values and standards–life, liberty, gun ownership for hunting and self-defense–and don’t want to add the problems of the cities to their list of local challenges.

Among the awake (not woke) in the US are rural Oregonians who recently voted on the county level to ask their state government to move the Oregon border so they may become part of Idaho.

Idaho stands ready to welcome them. Seven Oregon counties, so far, stand ready to go. The Greater Idaho petitioners hope some northern California counties will jump on board also.

It’s a switch on a population shift already happening as people leave states like New York and California for Florida and Texas.

And Idaho.

This effort proposes to move state lines rather than people.

The rural Oregonian effort requires approval from legislators in both states and Congress.

Approval from Oregon’s governing bodies seems unlikely because city cosmopolitans hold control there. They will be reluctant to allow tax dollars to move to another state.

They also hold to an aristocratic view that rejects local rule. This aristocratic view is not a local phenomenon.

For example, the White House recently announced its commitment to “codify Roe“–that is, to legalize abortion from conception through birth everywhere in the US.

To codify will make it a law rather than a court precedent. Roe v. Wade and companion case Doe v. Bolton were the 1973 SCOTUS decisions that eradicated all state laws restricting abortion. States have been codifying Roe as cosmopolitans fear SCOTUS will overturn the cases that established unlimited abortion.

Yet at no point since 1973 have Americans supported unrestricted abortion.

The cosmopolitan goal is to take more laws such as Roe/Doe–those involving other life issues like assisted suicide (legal in places like Oregon, the state of Washington, and DC among others), for example–and pass laws that will uniformly apply across the country.

The Oregon effort pushes back at such uniformity.

America is supposed to operate by the “consent of the governed.” The non-consenting of Oregon have officially called on their leaders to let the people go.

Other regions will follow, regions with less cosmopolitan legislatures, places of the non-consenting.

Southern Virginia is in a similar strait as the Oregonians–with rumblings of readiness to become part of West Virginia but also under cosmopolitan rule.

Pennsylvania, however, whose rural legislative control has only increased in recent elections, has no such departure effort.

Yet.

Many, I would dare to say a majority, of central Pennsylvanians deeply resent the liberalism of Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

Will a domino fall and begin a map-redrawing process of departure for rural areas looking to escape city influence?

Or is Oregon already that domino?

Photo Credit: Unsplash

A version of this piece appeared in the Altoona Mirror on June 3, 2021.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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28 Replies to “The Consent of the Governed”

  1. A rallying cry at the birth of our nation was “No taxation without representation.” Almost 250 years later, it appears we’ve come full circle and the cry is still valid.

  2. Hi Nancy,
    I’m an ideologically left person and I have some critiques for you about the Greater Idaho effort. The first is that just because you don’t like the political situation of a given state doesn’t mean you can just redraw state lines to become part of a state you like more. If you have a problem with Oregon politics that you think cannot be resolved with negotiation, than either accept that reality or move to another state with laws you like better. The main problem with just moving the state lines is the electoral college. Our winner take all election system means that the winners of each state get the political influence of those who did not support them. It would essentially be the state level of gerrymandering. Ending the electoral college and replacing it with a national popular vote would end the unearned influence on presidential elections. If you genuinely care about representation in government, I would encourage you to support DC Statehood, which currently only gets delegates in the presidential election and a non-voting member in Congress.
    -The Mycelium Zine

    1. The founders’ motives in creating the Electoral College were to ensure that the minority didn’t get pushed aside and so the big states wouldn’t overwhelm the smaller ones. That’s exactly what would happen if we eliminated the college and went to the popular vote. So few people fail to realize that we live in a representative republic, not a democracy. We live by the rule of law, not the rule of wind and whim. You suggest people move if they’re unhappy with their states. They are doing that. However, the Declaration of Independence mentions consent of the governed with the idea that people can make such decisions. If redrawing the lines would change the Electoral College, people moving to different states will have the same effect. Watch to see how California loses and Texas gains in the next census. And statehood for DC? The Constitution prohibits that because the founders did not intend for people to become permanent residents of the district. Many today are. Perhaps they would like to move but can’t afford to. Perhaps an effort could begin to help them do just that.

      1. Ending the Electoral College wouldn’t get rid of the power of the minority to have a disparate impact on the political system. The Senate is designed specifically for that purpose.* Why should my vote for president not have the same value as anyone else who casts a vote? I am aware that the current political system is a Republic, I am saying that I value Democracy. The masses can make poor decisions but so can a dictator. I want a government that is most representative of the will of the people as possible. That means making sure every US Citizen can vote and be represented in Congress. Also using ranked choice voting would be a better system that could allow the creation of new political parties giving people more choice in who they want to vote for.

        Even if DC wasn’t intended to have permanent residents, the reality is it does and they don’t have adequate representation. You, as a resident of the State of Oregon (I am assuming) have two Senators and a member of US House who represent you in Congress and have an obligation to listen to you and consider your input even if they represent the opposite political party. There is only a non-voting member for DC. The reality is people live in DC. The assumption that you claim was made is no longer true, thus it is an unintended outcome that must be remedied somehow. The amendment which allows the creation of the Federal District only specifies a maximum area of land it may encompass, it does not say that the current area that is the current federal district must always be a federal district. The proposal that Democrats have introduced for DC statehood would redraw the federal district to the national mall and around a collection of federal office buildings.

        The difference between outcomes is this: DC Statehood would have no impact on the presidential election as DC already holds their own votes and has their own delegates for the presidential election, if they didn’t I would say that would also be unjust. The Greater Idaho debate is about changing state Capitols for political convenience, not out of lack of representation. If the effort is done to try to get another electoral vote for Trump, I would consider that electoral gerrymandering. There are states like Texas that have increasing number of Democratic voters* the electoral votes of that state went to Trump even with the number of voters who didn’t vote from Trump. Another alternative to the popular vote would be proportionate electoral votes, with electoral districts in states able to vote for a different candidate than the rest of the state. If the goal is to change an electoral vote, then it has to be applicable for cities which get out voted by the rest of the state.

        Modern politics is defined by the rural urban divide, and so giving smaller states equal influence is a significant damper on power.
        What we are really debating is who should have power in government. I am saying that all people should for the most part have equal weight in governance. You are saying that rural areas should be given more weight in elections because there are less people. This placement of value says that people who live in rural areas are worth more than people who live in cities. The minority shouldn’t be ignored, but it also shouldn’t be able to absolutely obstruct. Why are rural people worth more to the Republic?

        *https://www.vox.com/2020/11/6/21550979/senate-malapportionment-20-million-democrats-republicans-supreme-court
        *https://www.npr.org/2020/11/03/928521936/texas-live-election-results-2020

        1. Why did you assume I am a resident of Oregon? I am a resident of Pennsylvania. I want to secede from Philadelphia and Harrisburg because the rulers there have too much control over how I live. We have two different societies between city and country in America. And dividing ourselves (we’re already a divided people) will give us more self-determination. The cities can run themselves as they see fit–which is running them into the ground and making the country people pay for their mismanagement.

          You see the goal as electoral votes. Remember, I didn’t introduce that topic. You did. There is much more at stake.

          I am not saying the rural places should have power. I’m saying they/we should have self-rule. We should have the right (as the Tenth Amendment says) to determine our own laws about guns, abortion, and school curriculum.
          You may wonder at the connection between abortion and perceived freedom. We in the more conservative areas want to free women from coerced abortion, which happens more than you may believe. We want to help them welcome children, not suffer from the trauma of having killed them.
          Many who favor abortion accuse pro-life people of only caring about the unborn until they’re born. I was a single mother with five children. My community cared for us in many ways. And we have thriving ministries to fill needs for those around us, ministries that prove to be more effective than government programs because they lift people up and not make them stand in place to keep the benefits coming.

          If city people want to outlaw guns and then not be able to protect themselves, that’s up to them. We do well to protect ourselves and provide food through hunting (some of which ends up on the plates of those in need). Hunting also thins the herds of deer and keeps them from ending up on the hoods of our cars and on those of folks in cities too.

          And governors who don’t understand our values should not have control over what our children learn in schools.

          Rural people are not worth more. We are just worthy of freedom.

  3. I wasn’t aware of this. It is truly heartbreaking to let a few ruin your state and the education of your children.

    1. It is heartbreaking. And it could be avoided by simply allowing local control and giving heed to the Tenth Amendment. Thanks, Deb, and God bless!

  4. Very interesting. I had not heard about the situation in Oregon so thanks for educating me. If these governments won’t listen to the people then the people will do other things. Great post.

      1. Thank you, Katherine. I live in a small city surrounded by rural folks. It’s important to understand where food comes from and why people in different places can have different ideas. God bless!

  5. Your messages are always informative and challenge us to think. As a rural resident, I appreciate your stance that we have different beliefs, viewpoints, and needs than urban environments. Thank you, for sharing.

  6. It’s interesting to note that places like Arizona, Florida, and Tennessee have seen an influx of people moving into their borders. This was a thought-provoking article.

    Sincerely,
    Tammy

  7. As always you present prescient information about what lies ahead. The conversation that developed between you and The Mycelium Zine fleshed out your ideas even more fully in comparison with her thoughts. It was interesting to see both sides shared in one piece.

    As I considered the western states you mentioned, I realized that none of them were a part of our nation when our constitution was written. In my mind, that seems to give them even more freedom to make these changes, as the northeastern states did at the beginning of our nation and then also at the time of the Civil War.

    As for Washington D.C., as you said, it’s preserved in the constitution. Thank you once again for a thoughtful post on today’s issues.

    1. Thank you, Melinda, especially for the history. That’s an interesting perspective about the western states not being part of the US until later. I agree. God bless!

  8. I know about the differences between southern Virginia and northern Virginia, but didn’t know that people in Oregon were trying to get integrated to become part of Idaho. Fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Interesting piece, Nancy. You are the best at bringing awareness of issues to the forefront. I’ve been aware of the situation in Virginia, but not Pennsylvania. And as an office administrator at a real estate firm in Tennessee, I can tell you we have many coming from California, Texas, and a few states in the northeast moving into our area.

  10. Thank you for raising awareness of these important issues. Honestly, I feel like I no longer live in America at all. It already feels like a dictatorship where thinking and decision-making are done for you. Your job is to comply to their demands and decisions. Can’t see anything good ahead for our country, except the return of Christ.

    1. We can’t lose hope. And efforts like the one in Oregon show us that people in America–even in the bluest of states–still want to be free. Thanks, Melissa, and God bless!

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