Credibility and Legitimacy

Amidst today’s polarization in the American political and social sphere and in America’s public discourse, if one were to assess where ordinary individuals stood – and I must note that it is the position and the perspective of the ordinary individual which I am seeking to ascertain given the detachment from my surroundings which has been in large part my writing method for the last few years – the ordinary individual is essentially caught between a central government with a history of corruption and war crimes, determined and shaped in large part by the wars and financial crises of the early 21st century on one hand, and a hard-right insurgency that has essentially taken an entire party in a two-party political system captive on the other hand. 

As a result of its recent history, the central government now lacks credibility and legitimacy, with credibility and legitimacy ultimately serving as the basic currency of politics and international affairs, and in turn, the hard-right agenda essentially amounts to nothing more than the exploitation and utilization of this lack of credibility and legitimacy on the part of the central government. 

Thus, it is not that the hard-right has a viable or rational political and social program to offer to the majority of Americans. Rather, the hard-right has emerged as a result of what is essentially a vacuum in the political and social sphere which has been created by a lack of credibility and legitimacy on the part of the central government. This crisis of credibility and legitimacy which is now front-and-center in American domestic politics is a crisis which has been experienced in many places and in many instances outside of the United States. For one, the crisis of credibility and legitimacy is something which has plagued my ancestral fatherland and motherland, namely, Afghanistan, and as a result it is a crisis which I am all too familiar with. It is this particular crisis of credibility and legitimacy which has essentially shaped my discourse in recent years. And the outcome of this crisis of credibility and legitimacy and in turn the polarization of a society which takes place as a result of such a crisis is something which is now familiar to folks in Washington and to certain Twitter heads.

Francis Fukuyama made an incredibly important point about the issue of legitimacy when he wrote the following in a book titled “Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy”:

“Legitimacy represents a broadly shared perception that certain social arrangements are just. Ideas regarding legitimacy evolve over time. This evolution is sometimes a by-product of changes in the economy or society, but there are numerous junctures at which they act as independent drivers of the other dimensions of development (such as political development, the evolution of the state, rule of law, democratic accountability, human socioeconomic development, social mobilization, and ideas concerning justice inter alia).” 

It follows that not only have the economic and social changes taken place which prompt a reckoning with the issue of credibility and legitimacy in our nation and society, but we are also at a critical juncture in our nation’s history as a result of the emerging polarization of our society, and it is this polarization which also prompts a reckoning with the issue of credibility and legitimacy in our public discourse and in our political and social sphere aside from the economic and social changes which have occurred over the last few decades.

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