Skip to comments.America’s Crisis of Political Legitimacy
Posted on 04/03/2014 5:59:10 AM PDT by don-o
The Founders were right to posit that a breakdown of the limits of government would cause a breakdown of consent. Only 22 percent of likely voters say the current government has the consent of the governed.
Across many decades, my minds eye sees Professor Samuel Beer pacing the lecture hall stage at Harvard, talking about the accession of Henry II to the throne of England in 1154 and the end of 20 years of anarchy.
Beers interest is not antiquarian, because he is focused on timeless principles and especially on their contemporary relevance. He uses Henry II to introduce the class to the concept of political legitimacy, which he defined in his writing as the claim of a government to the obedience and loyalty of their citizens/subjects, and the underlying principles that determine how the right to make this claim is gained or lost.
Throughout the year, the class time travels to societies in crisis over legitimacy: From the England of Henry II to its long revolution of 1640 to 1688 to the American Revolution in 1776, the French and Russian Revolutions of 1789 and 1917, and Weimar Germany as Hitler comes to power in 1933.
In each instance, a government has forfeited its claim to obedience and loyaltyat least in the view of a significant portion of its subjectsand has broken down. The questions are: Why? And what comes next? At the extreme, a politys condition reaches the state described by a Russian revolutionary leader when he said that the Bolsheviks did not seize power; they found it lying in the gutter and picked it up.
(Excerpt) Read more at theimaginativeconservative.org ...
We have a one way representative republic. The feds do what they will do regardless of what we want, and the reps come back once in a while and represent what they will be doing to us while they steal our wallets.
“The root of this crisis is that over the past two generations, we have come to accept as routine the idea that various special interests are allowed to capture pieces of the governmentexecutive departments, regulatory agencies, congressional committees, appropriators, parts of the tax codeand use governmental power to tax, spend, regulate, subsidize, prosecute, or forbear for the advantage of the interest and its allies in the bureaucracy.”
The gov’t we have now is not legitimate and does not operate with the consent of the governed.
We obey because they’ll kill us, not because we see them as a legitimate authority to be respected.
Legitimacy is the most critical aspect of government.
Napoleon is credited with saying that bayonets are extremely versatile, but that you can’t sit on one.
IOW, military force is a poor substitute for legitimate government, to which people submit because they believe it is right to do so, and indeed will fight to maintain.
Americans have (historically) considered our government to be legitimate because they revere the Constitution. I have been amazed for some decades at the enthusiasm with which liberal judges and legislators chop away at the Constitution that provides their own legitimacy.
Reminds me of the cartoons in which a character is sawing away on the tree branch on which he’s sitting. We respect judicial decisions because they are, in theory, valid interpretations of the Constitution. Decisions that obviously deviate from this just weaken legitimacy.
Images of the storming of the Bastille come to mind. Pray that is not necessary.
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