Monday, July 4, 2016

A July 4 post on democratic legitimacy

Yesterday, I took a self-indulgent, geeky detour through Westeros, in order to talk about political legitimacy.  Today, we celebrate the  anniversary of the day America stopped taking familial lines of succession seriously as a method of assessing legitimacy.  Sons and wives of former rulers are no longer, uh, where was I going with that?  Never mind.

So let's talk about perception of legitimacy, which was where I left off yesterday.  When we ask people about political trust, there are two difficult-to-disentangle concepts: trust in the political system as a whole, and trust in the current leaders.  The problem, of course, is that it is often hard for people to separate their feelings about the two.  The system looks more screwed up when people you don't like are in power doing stuff you don't like.

So, I will just bring up two more quick issues for July 4.  First, the most destructive people in politics are those who assess legitimacy based on whether or not they win.  Anyone who responds to a loss by claiming that "the system is rigged," muddies the waters between trust in the system and its current leaders.  That makes any form of peaceful succession a problem.  The corollary, then, is that willingness to lose is the most critical necessity of a peaceful system.  Anyone who isn't willing to lose cannot peacefully participate in a political system.

So, hey, it's the Fourth of July.  I don't really know anything about politics.  I'm more of a music guy.

And here's a bonus.

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