Glenn Reynolds | America’s government lacks consent of the governed

Americans are out of sorts, and increasingly they’re unhappy with the government.  According to a Pew poll released last week, more than half of Americans view government as a threat to their freedom.

And it’s not just Republicans unhappy with Obama, or gun owners afraid that the government will take their guns:  38% of Democrats, and 45% of non-gun owners, see the government as a threat.

Add this to another recent poll in which only 22% of likely voters feel America’s government has the "consent of the governed," and you’ve got a pretty depressing picture — and a recipe for potential trouble.  Governments operate, to a degree, by force, but ultimately they depend on legitimacy.  A government that a majority views as a threat, and that only a small minority sees as enjoying the consent of the governed, is a government with legitimacy problems.

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