by John Chambers
He promised change and he’s giving it to us.
The Citizen Hat (http://www.musack.com/citizen-hat/citizen-hat-toc.htm) describes the traditional or usual ways that a government gains legitimacy. First it defines “legitimate.”
Legitimate is to be “in accordance [agreement] with established or accepted patterns and standards” says the American Heritage Dictionary while Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law adds that it is “being in accordance with law or with established legal forms and requirements.” Something is “legitimate” if it is generally agreed that it is the way it should be….
The Citizen Hat continues that
according to German political economist Max Weber, founder of modern sociology, legitimate authority can be gained through three means:
- long-standing tradition (“that’s the way it has always been”),
- inspirational charisma (“people just follow him without knowing why”), or
- legal rationality (“the law makes sense”).
The essence of legitimacy is agreement. Most observers will note that grudging agreement can be gained through
- brute force (“agree or be hurt”) or
- bribery (“agree and be paid”).
The essence of legitimacy is that folks are willing to support enforcement of the rules.
Obama, however, has found a new way to gain legitimacy. Most will look at the list above and quickly conclude that he governs by “inspirational charisma” and that is almost so. He does use it to cover his true source of legitimacy.
Obama’s big change is that he has added Legitimacy by Deception to the list.
Of course, we all know that politician’s lie and are deceptive. That little nugget of wisdom is part of our “civil religion” – the truths we hold to be self-evident, well, today, anyway.
But Obama lies with reckless abandon, not caring if he is caught. He knows as long as he is fooling enough of the people enough of the time, he is Lincoln version 2.0. I hear Lincoln ran the State of Illinois into bankruptcy, or nearly so, during his tenure in that legislature. Depends on which history you read.
Obama is carrying on a noble tradition, one that certainly will go down in the history books, whoever writes them.