By Lawrence Sellin  November 18, 2021

Legitimacy is the prerequisite for all governance not based on fear and coercion.

According to U.S. military Joint Publication 3-24:

“Legitimacy is a significant indicator of the extent to which systems of authority, decisions, and conduct are accepted by the local population. Political legitimacy of a government determines the degree to which the population will voluntarily comply with the decisions and rules issued by a governing authority. Governments described as legitimate primarily rule through the consent of the governed; those described as illegitimate tend to rely heavily on coercion. Citizens obey illegitimate governments because they fear retribution, rather than because they voluntarily accept its rule.”

Acquiescence or propaganda-driven artificial “popular support” should not be confused with legitimacy, the former evaporating when the immediate physical and economic security or the future prospects of the citizenry are threatened.

Unlike disagreements with policy commonplace in democracies, questions of legitimacy undermine a government’s raison d’etre or reason to exist.

A government that is inherently illegitimate through a fraudulent election or creates illegitimacy by mandating unconstitutional policies detrimental to its citizens, or both, creates the conditions for a bottom-up political insurgency.

The incubator of political insurgency is an ungoverned area or a locally governed area, where the federal government is unable or unwilling to extend control, effectively govern, or influence the local population.

In those cases, a political insurgency can take root when local governance is considered more legitimate because federal policies diverge significantly from local values and cultural norms.

A political insurgency will grow as it replaces the federal government’s responsibilities to provide proper security, public services, quality of life, education and justice.

Primary among those is protection against both criminal elements and illegal federal government intrusion furnished by local law enforcement and a fully-armed, trained and deputized citizenry.

Once autonomous local security is established, a political insurgency would pursue the objectives of reform and nullification of unconstitutional federal government mandates or intrusions.

The reform component of political insurgency seeks to compel the federal government to alter or discontinue its destructive policies through local civil disobedience and non-compliance.

Nullification involves a broader roll back of federal governmental authority in a geographically defined area creating greater regional autonomy.

A political insurgency does not expand from a single center of gravity, but through a coalescence of multiple “ink spots” of resistance.

The goal being that each political insurgency “ink spot” would establish itself based on local conditions and personnel and then connect to other “ink spots” creating a resistance network and a foundation for a “shadow government” based on restoring the American constitutional republic.

Initiation of a political insurgency would send the unmistakable message that a significant portion of the population no longer views the federal government as legitimate or contributing to the well-being of its citizens.

Regaining that legitimacy will require a strict interpretation of the Constitution, anticorruption efforts, true representative government and equal justice under law, measures which now only a nationwide political insurgency can set in motion.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. He had a civilian career in international business and medical research. His email address is