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"Consent of the governed" is a phrase synonymous with a political theory wherein a government's legitimacy and moral right to use state power is only justified and legal when derived from the people or society over which that power is exercised. This theory of "consent" is historically contrasted to the divine right of kings and has often been invoked against the legitimacy of colonialism. A key question is whether the unanimous consent of the governed is required; if so, this would imply the right of secession for those who do not want to be governed by a particular collective.

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In the United States

Using thinking similar to that of English political scientist John Locke, the founders of the United States believed in a state built upon the consent of "free and equal" citizens; a state otherwise conceived would lack the legitimacy and the authority to exercise legal authority. This was expressed, among other places, The 2nd paragraph of the Declaration of Independence[1] and in the Virginia Bill of Rights, especially Section 6, quoted below:

That elections of members to serve as representatives of the people, in assembly, ought to be free; and that all men, having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, the attachment to, the community, have the right of suffrage, and cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for publick uses without their own consent, or that of their representatives so elected, nor bound by any law to which they have not, in like manner, assented, for the public good."[2]

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References

References

to unite as one

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