What gives government its "legitimacy," its right to claim obedience from citizens?
The film the Monty Python and the Holy Grail explains the difference between a claim based on divine right and one that rests on popular consent or sovereignty. Listen to this discussion.
Here is the transcript in case you can't hear it.
Arthur: I am your King.
Peasant woman: Well I didn't vote for you.
Arthur: You don't vote for kings.
Woman: Well how'd you become king, then?
Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite,
held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by devine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur.
That is why I'm your king.
Dennis: Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.
Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
Arthur: Be quiet!
Dennis: You can't expect to weild supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you!
Arthur: Shut up!
Dennis: If I went 'round sayin' I was an emporer just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away!.
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