America’s Crisis of Political Legitimacy

From The American:

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 mind’s 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.

Beer’s 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.

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