A new Rasmussen Reports poll found that just 17% of Americans say our government has “consent of the governed.” Only 8% believe their representatives on Capitol Hill listen to their constituents more than their own party leaders, and a mere 6% give Congress a “good” or “excellent” rating. These are historic lows. Meanwhile, President Obama’s approval index rating stands at -21, and another Rasmussen poll found that fewer voters than ever believe U.S. elections are fair.
Note the phrase “consent of the governed” used by the Rasmussen pollsters. It is borrowed from John Locke, the early modern social contract theorist who most influenced the American founding fathers. It was also Locke who effectively argued for the people’s “right of revolution” when the government violates the basic rights of those it is supposed to represent. The Lockean notion of the right to revolt held sway among our forefathers, as it was asserted in the Declaration of Independence and, to many, justified the American Revolution.
Might another revolution be coming? In a recent Fox News interview, Pat Caddell called our current condition “pre-revolutionary.” It’s a frightening prospect and one that not long ago seemed unthinkable. But such talk is increasingly common on the Internet, among people (on both the left and right) who favor it as the key to progress as well as those, like me, who believe it would be devastating and a sure path to extreme oppression.
Bloggers everywhere have picked up on Caddell’s remarks, and it will be interesting to see where the discussion goes from here. Will the effect on most people be politically sobering or intoxicating? Let us pray for the former.