The power of the mighty hath no foundation but in the opinion and belief of the people.
There you have it. The foundational assumption of the social contract theory of government is that all people are roughly equal. N.b. not totally equal, not should be made equal, but are roughly, approximately, kinda-sorta equal — equal enough, in other words, that a fight between a large-but-dumb man and a small-but-clever one is a 50/50 bet. This is Hobbes’s famous “state of nature,” in which human life is “nasty, poor, solitary, brutish, and short.” To escape this horrid state of affairs, we roughly-kinda-sorta equal folks contract with each other, trading away some of our liberty for a guarantee of security. This “social contract” is the basis of all modern political thought.
The problem, of course, is how any such government could propagate itself. What happens when the state of nature is overcome, and the next generation is born into peace and prosperity? Why is the king’s eldest son automatically the new king when the old one dies?
Our Founding Fathers, via Locke and Montesquieu, proposed that we all re-contract every few years. That solves the primogeniture problem, but again, note the underlying assumption: every party to the contract is roughly equal. It simply doesn’t make sense otherwise.
In a rough frontier society, as America was then, this can work. This is why George Washington was so conscious of the dignity of the Presidency — Washington had feet of clay, as everyone who knew him knew very well, but he didn’t let those clay feet soil the carpets in the halls of government. The office ennobles the man, not the other way around, and this was true all the way down the line — any town mayor who put on airs outside of business hours would be laughed out of the tavern.
Fast forward 200 years, and we find ourselves once again ruled by a hereditary aristocracy. Take Barack Obama, President Sort-of-God himself. He is not like other men, and not just in his murky, comic book-esque origin story. The entire American “meritocracy” is designed to produce people like him: rootless cosmopolitans with letters after their names, who feel their prep school yearbook photos give them the right –but not the duty — to rule over the huddled masses. Take the long view, and every non-Trump presidential candidate of the last three decades has been a slightly different version of this same base model. They all know each other, marry each other, hang out together, and have arranged affairs such that they can replenish their ranks with guys like Obama, whose Harvard degrees mark him, Mafia-style, as a Friend of Ours.
And that’s the problem. Hobbes wrote all that stuff about the state of nature in an attempt to explain the English Civil War, and to make sure something like that never happened again. He knew that people — kings most definitely included — are fickle, shortsighted fools who value their (baseless, irrational) opinions of themselves far higher than they value their lives. When it becomes too obvious that a king is just a man like any other — when, in other words, the “opinion and belief of the people” no longer holds blue blood in awe — horrific, violent chaos is the inevitable result.
We’re very near that point now. As folks in Our Thing have been pointing out for a long time, the dignity of the office of the President is dead — Bill Clinton killed it back in 1998. As we’ve further pointed out many times, the current scandals in our government — Uranium One, the Russia probe, the IRS, anything and everything to do with the FBI — are orders of magnitude worse than Watergate. Our modern blue bloods still think they’re above it all; “the opinion and belief of the people” is something else entirely. What happens when the people simply refuse to obey?