American Decline

Barometers of Legitimacy

By William S. Lind, Traditional Right

Readers may wonder why I keep returning to the theme of legitimacy. The reason is simple: legitimacy is the ground on which Fourth Generation war is fought. It is, above all, a contest for legitimacy, and winning (or losing) is measured by gains or losses in legitimacy. Fourth Generation war on our own soil is by far the greatest threat this country faces, and as the legitimacy of the government, and even more of the state itself, wains, Fourth Generation war spreads and intensifies.

From this perspective, barometers of legitimacy–anything that helps us measure the rise or fall of the legitimacy of the current order of things–are earnestly to be sought. I can identify at least three. The first is widely recognized: opinion polls that ask Americans how much trust they have in various institutions. These include the Presidency, Congress, the courts, and, perhaps most important, the integrity of the electoral process. As I noted in a previous column, the latter is the equivalent of a claimant to a throne having (or lacking) royal blood. Nothing else in the political system is as important for legitimacy. For decades, polls have shown a downward trend in Americans’ trust of all these institutions. Since the 2020 election, distrust of the electoral process has spiked, not surprisingly given the abandonment of long-standing rules designed to prevent vote fraud.

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