Power, authority, legitimacy Political Power, Authority, and Legitimacy
Two great questions about political power • “Who governs? and To what ends?” • who governs is the question of who has power - the ability of one person to cause another person to act in accordance with the first person’s intentions. • found in all human relationships; • however, we’re only concerned with its exercise in the American federal government.
Authority • People who exercise power may also have authority – the right to use power. • Some authority is formal authority – the right to use power vested in a governmental office.
Legitimacy • Power and authority must be based on legitimacy – what makes a law or constitution a source of right. • Power, authority, and legitimacy can become divorced from one another resulting in a government that rules by the force of brutality.
the history of the United States has been a struggle over what constitutes legitimacy. • The Constitution is put to the test time after time as political officeholders go about the business of governing the country.