It is the greatest of fallacies; indeed it might be the greatest public relations stunt ever conceived. It cannot be defined. It cannot be touched or spoken to. It cannot be seen. It has no substance. And yet we as individuals identify ourselves as it with perfectly unhindered irrationality, while at the same time never being able to grasp its totality of non-existence. It is used to describe every last one of us, even when it singles out one of us to bully and plunder. It represents the basis of the entire structure of power over us, while at the same time somehow being us. And the power of it has created the most impressive false dialectic ever conceived in the history of the world.
Monarchies and dictatorships are surely envious of it, for even the most violent of militarized tyrannies cannot match the shear driving force of the consent of it. And all who oppose it have learned that no power in the world, including an act of God, seems to be able to stop it.
So just what is it? It is the ambiguous title of “the People.”
In its most surreal application, the People is most often used to cause a lack of tangible responsibility for the actions of the People. Like the Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde model, the men and women that make up the citizenry of government can simply blame the government for everything done in the People’s name, even though it was supposedly done with the consent of the governed. For the government, the men and women that make up that legislature and Executive branch can simply blame the citizenry for giving their consent as the governed People, never admitting that their own actions (which are often despite the actual People’s will) were anything but the will of the People.
Either way, it seems, no one is ever to blame for the actions of the People because the People simply does not exist. Does the People cast a shadow? Can the People be touched or seen? Can the People actually only speak with one voice, considering it supposedly equates to all the citizens in the nation? Can the elected officials somehow be the People despite the rest of the People just because those People voted for the legislators to be the voice of the People?
Just who, in the end, do you suppose is taking responsibility as the actual People? Is it the president? Is he the People when He decides to act as the People without actually consulting the People? Is the entire citizenry of People thus responsible as a collective People for the actions of the president acting as the People?