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Sat Nov 7, 2020, 02:17 PM

Legitimacy

Something's happening today, around the world. The balance of power is shifting.

Donald Trump brought the air of a Mafia Don to the White House, and with it the projection of how America was to be perceived. He ruled using fear and venom as his tools. Our allies came to realize, quickly, that America under Trump couldn't be trusted. It had gone fascist. The news was filled with cities on fires, protesters becoming vandals, an army of biker gangs openly threatened elected officials, supported by the President of the United States. Children were put into cages and separated from their families. Corruption had become the only currency, the rule of law no longer enforced. America had become infected not only with Covid-19 but also a creeping virulence, fear for the future, fear of association, fear of neighbors who had suddenly become enemies.

Power can be stolen. The problem with stolen power is that it does not confer legitimacy. This is an important concept but one that's difficult to put into words. Legitimacy is the idea that power was justly earned, and the belief that its wielder will use that power for the good of the country, not for his or her enrichment. It's the idea that a ruler has the support of all of the people in his demesne, not just the ones who adulate him or her. It also is a contract that says that a leader acknowledges that he is to be leader of everyone, not simply those who agree with him.

Donald Trump as president was illegitimacy personified. He was a narcissist who surrounded himself with sycophants, who use the power of his office to silence his critics, who "won" by rigging the rules while failing to gain the support of the majority of Americans. He installed his family into positions of power in a show of blatant nepotism, and then turned the instruments of power, from the immigration police to the Department of Justice, into his own praetariat and personal lawyers. As an illegitimate president, he subverted the Rule of Law.

The media in this country have a very odd role. They inform, the persuade, the coerce, and it can be argued that, like so much else, their privilege needs to be better kept in check. However, there is also something that they do every election cycle. They announce. The ballots have been cast and counted, the numbers have come in, but it isn't until the media calls the results of those numbers that a candidate is given legitimacy, or has legitimacy taken away.

Today, the mantle has been passed. Congratulations to President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris. You have been granted legitimacy.

Many will sigh in relief, from our allies to the millions of people who have watched this descent into madness take its toll on them and their families. Others will curse and plot and scheme, but will do so under cover of darkness, very much like their illegitimate leader, Donald Trump.

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