Several people in comments to my article “Liberal Compares Obama’s Push for Tax Hikes to Lincoln Wanting to End Slavery,” used the phrase ‘No Taxation without Representation’ in reaction to where our nation is headed. It’s not a good response to our current situation.
Right now there are more people who want higher taxes than people who don’t want higher taxes. The people who want higher taxes vote for people who will represent what they want. This means that if a certain segment of the population can get 51 percent of the electorate to vote for representatives who will raise taxes, then we have taxation with representation.
Harvard University’s Harvey Mansfield writes,
“‘within democracy there is good and bad, free and slave,’ and that ‘democracy can produce a slavish mind and a slavish country.’ . . . The end goal, Mr. Mansfield worries, is to sideline the American constitutional tradition in favor of ‘a practical constitution consisting of progressive measures the left has passed that cannot be revoked. And that is what would be fixed in our political system — not the Constitution.’ . . . The welfare state’s size isn’t what makes it so stifling, Mr. Mansfield says. ‘What makes government dangerous to the common good is guaranteed entitlements, so that you can never question what expenses have been or will be incurred.'”1
Since 51 percent of the people voted to keep President Obama in office, the appeal is being made to Republicans that they need to support his call for higher taxes because this is “the will of the people.” A number of Republicans are buying into this bit of political malarkey that will lead us down the path of European socialism.
The slogan was adopted because the colonists maintained “they were not directly represented in the distant British Parliament,” and that any laws “Parliament passed taxing the colonists (such as the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act) were illegal under the Bill of Rights 1689, and were a denial of their rights as Englishmen.” Our situation is different. We do have representation, but that representation is being manipulated by people who are being paid for their vote.
In constitutional terms, it does not matter what the majority of voters want the Federal government to do in their name. What does matter is what the Constitution gives them the authority to do.
If the Constitution does not give the Federal government the authority to tax people for education, bail out bankrupt companies, support businesses financially that are involved in so-called “Green Energy,” or any number of extra-constitutional endeavors, it does not matter how the people vote.
Every representative takes an oath to uphold the Constitution, not the will of the people that put them into office. When you hear an elected official say, “I was elected to do the will of the people,” you immediately know that he did not take his oath seriously.
Benjamin Franklin didn’t appeal to the “will of the people.” He appealed to the Constitution. Why draft a contractual document like the Constitution if the will of the people can overturn its governing limitations with a majority vote?
“In questions of power,” Benjamin Franklin wrote, “let no more be heard of confidence in man but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.”
So let’s drop the slogan “No taxation without representation” because we have taxation with representation, and that’s the real problem.
- Sohrab Ahmari, “The Crisis of American Self-Government,” The Wall Street Journal (Nov. 30, 2012). [↩]