Legitimacy of the Ballot Box

Here's some good Egyption history from Juan Cole: Egypt Class Conflict

A couple of quotes I think are worth a comment.

"Authority is rooted in legitimacy. Leaders are acknowledged because the people agree that there is some legitimate basis for their authority and power. In democratic countries, that legitimacy comes from the ballot box."
"Power flows from the barrel of a gun."

For the last decade or so, the "legitimacy of the ballot box" has been under attack in the US with the last three administrations being attacked relentlesly in order to plant a question of their legitimacy in the minds of the people. I suppose this has always been around at some level but it seems to be reaching new highs.

The Right hit the Clinton administration hard on a corruption angle with Lewinsky, Vince Foster, etc. The Left turned it up a notch with the "Stolen-election" of 2000 in an attempt delegitimize Bush. Now, the Right has taken it to new levels with its un-American, Socialist, Marxist, communist, Kenyan-Muslim, pals-around-with-terrorists, no-birth-certificate, chicago-thug, not my president, attacks on Obama. This current onslaught has been very successfull as I think the number of people questioning the legitimacy of our president is at an all time high (at least in my area and my lifetime.)

So,.. I guess i wonder how far this can go before the "legitimacy of the ballot box" is lost and we move to a "Power flows from the barrel of a gun" scenario?


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