POLITICAL THEORY 5
Legitimacy,Power and Authority
Thepolitics and voter behaviors witnessed during elections are complexto explain. Legitimacy is the belief that an action by aninstitution, individual, government or a particular event is valid orjustified if occurring within the confines of accepted law. In thiscase, all constitutional institutions such as the courts and theelectoral agency have legitimate power to exercise their authority inmaking decisions as mandated by law. Citizens accept and recognizethe power and authority of such institutions in making decisionsbased on the accepted constitutional law that give powers toinstitutions such as courts (Heywood, 2004).
Politicallegitimacy rests on peoples’ right of choice, acceptance andrecognition of validity on political leadership. In short, politicallegitimacy rests with the political players within a State whoaccepts and recognizes the right of a particular government orindividual in exercising power and authority. Based on thesearguments, in the case of USA 2000 general election, the twocandidates gave the election process legitimacy by joining in thepresidential race.
Courtsare established constitutional institutions that have legitimacybased on the rule of law. As such, although there were claims ofvoting malpractice in Florida, Al Gore practiced political maturityand used the election and court legitimacy to seek a court redress invote recount. His request was granted but the Supreme Courtoverturned the request of vote recount giving Bush Presidentiallegitimacy. Al Gore and his followers had no choice than to respectthe legitimacy of the court decision and the legitimacy of theelection process.
Theunderlying fact is that, based on a fair political process, eachcandidate got in the election race expecting fairness this in turngave the process a political legitimacy. Neither Al Gore nor hisfollowers discredited the electoral process as null or void beforeand after the election this was an indication of the strong sense oflegitimacy the candidate and the citizens attributed to the electionprocess. After, the court ruling Al Gore made a public address thathe supported the court ruling. In short, the election process waslegitimate despite some irregularities and Bush Presidency waslegitimate.
Thepresident has a legitimate power under the constitution to makevarious decisions on the use of nuclear weapons. However, thepresident does not have an absolute and sole authority to make suchdecisions regarding use of nuclear weapons without separate advicefrom the congress and the general staffs.
Replyto one student answer
Theargument by the first student that the 2000 election was legitimateis valid. It is also true that most legal decisions are not alwaysright especially when such laws have been overtaken by time. Forinstance, the Florida law requiring voters to have a two photo IDduring the election while most voters had a one photo ID is a goodillustration of the ineffectiveness of legal decisions. In addition,it is also true that the court failed to grant an appeal for specificelection malpractices. However, the student fails to note that,although the court decisions were not always right, theseinstitutions have a legal legitimacy backing under the constitutionand as such have a power and authority to make such decisions(Heywood, 2004).
Replyto the second student
Theargument posed by the second student that the courts lost theirlegitimacy by been partisan in the 2000 general election is not true.Courts institutions exist because they have legitimate authority tomake rulings under the constitution which is legitimate among thepeople. It is based on this legitimate authority that the SupremeCourt had granted Al Gore his request for the vote recounting butlater overturned the ruling. As such, the supreme authority of thecourt ought to be respected regardless of the decision made. However,if the courts made a wrong and ‘illegitimate ruling,’ then thecourts should not be in existence in the first place. It is alsowrong for the student to state that the courts caused distrust amongthe voters for getting involved in the political dispute. Courts areestablished for dispute resolutions and application of justice andtherefore, the Supreme Court had every legitimate right, authorityand power to intervene in offering a justifiable solution. Overall,the student fails to make a justifiable claim on the illegitimacy ofthe election and the legitimacy of courts.
HeywoodAndrew, 2004. Political Theory. New York: USA. Palgrave Macmillanpublishers.