Governments are losing the confidence of the governed, and they are about to lose their consent. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
Government is the ultimate confidence game. It’s power rests on the idea that enforcing issued edicts through public pressure and policing is unchallengeable.
That power, however, is anything but that. Policing is a bluff, and a dangerous one at that. That bluff is maintained through rational risk assessment we all do when deciding whether to challenge the policeman’s demands.
This tension lies at the heart of all government systems, no matter how repressive or constructive. Those in power, ultimately remain there only with the consent of the governed. And once confidence in the constructive aspects of government (whatever they may be) fails, that’s when chaos ascends.
Charles Lipson, writing in Real Clear Politics, finally categorized the extent to which we as Americans have lost confidence in our institutions. Frankly, he’s a little late, but hey, I never turn my nose up to anyone willing to join this party.
The problem we face, beyond the specifics about crime, COVID, duplicity, and social division, is a palpable breakdown in public order at the same time the public has lost confidence in our government officials and the institutions they lead. The two meta-problems—the breakdown of order and erosion of public confidence—are deeply intertwined because we count on our leaders and institutions to give us reliable information, provide a stable environment (so each of us can go about our lives), and abide by the same rules we all do. Those are foundational elements of a peaceful, liberal, democratic society. Their attrition imperils that society and its governance.