In the Declaration of Independence, our founders spoke about our inalienable rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They go on to say that governments are established “to secure these rights.” And that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
These few sentences, early in this famous documents, tell us much that is important and true: that government is important for people’s ability to live a good life; that government exists to serve the people, and not vice versa; that justice requires that a society’s governing power be itself governed by the people, in their giving their consent.
It is through the election process that we, the people, give our consent to our government—whether by affirming the status quo or by throwing the bums out. Voting, in other words, is the means by which we create a government that can rule justly, and by which we secure our most cherished rights.
It is important, especially in our times, to make one additional point: consent can be meaningful only if it is informed consent. If people can be manipulated by lies to believe falsehoods the mighty want them to believe, then it is not true consent. Agreement based on deception cannot be a genuine agreement.
So it is important for us citizens, if we care about our life, liberty, and chances for happiness, not only to vote, but to make sure we have enough knowledge and understanding to understand what those who apply to govern us are really up to. - Andy Schmookler