Some general thoughts about authority. Not intended to be comprehensive.
Human society cannot function without authority. There must be authorities, and the people must, for the most part, respect the authority that the authorities possess.
As an attribute, “authority” means the right to be believed or obeyed. There are authorities who are rulers, and there are authorities who are experts. Real experts, that is.
The right to be believed comes from demonstrated mastery of some field of knowledge. It is defined by the truth, not the person. The right to be obeyed is less easily defined. It is defined by the society in which the authority and his subordinates is embedded. It is partly subjective, because the people will not respect a ruler who appears deficient. It is partly objective, as the rules of the society generally determine who has the right to rule.
There is currently an obvious crisis of authority. In part because the existing higher-level authorities are proving themselves to be unworthy (the higher the level, the less worthy), and in part because of the spread of philosophies which condemn or undermine authority. These are mutually reinforcing trends
But the existing authorities are not completely unworthy, and the people are not completely mistrustful. Without any authority, human society collapses and humans live like animals. Since society has not collapsed, and humans mostly do not live like animals, some authority remains.
But there is a crisis. The main cause of the crisis is the spread of a “democratic” way of thinking. Because of democracy, rulers cannot simply rule. They have to secure the explicit approval of the voters / customers / clients. To do this, they must devote themselves full-time to manipulating and intimidating the people. The people see this and respond with increased distrust, which amplifies the cycle.
The only way to improve things begins with understanding what is really going on.
Real authority cannot be ultimately grounded in nothing but human belief. If authority has no other ground it is a house of cards that is prone to collapse under stress. If authority cannot be traced back ultimately to God then the whole thing will eventually fail. Nobody has an ultimate right to be obeyed or to be believed unless God is the ground of the social, moral and intellectual orders. Without belief in God, man is just making it up as he goes along, and the people sense this and refuse to respect the existing authorities beyond the bare minimum necessary for survival.
The foregoing is a basic philosophical analysis, but although true and important, it does not provide practical guidance. For this reason cynics dismiss the whole exercise as futility.
That’s the way it always is with the ultimate things, and the things of God are the most ultimate. God is real but His existence does not guarantee our lives will go well or that we will understand everything we want to understand.
Our authorities are failing because they generally reject true beliefs about God, mankind, and human society. The people often join them in these false beliefs, with the result that society is disordered and dysfunctional. The part of the population which holds to generally sound beliefs about God, mankind and human society is unpopular, as it defies our main authorities and the large faction who generally back them. The Faction of Disorder holds power, but its constituent sects are unhappy because the Doctrine of Disorder which animates the Faction of Disorder is incoherent and so incapable of producing even minimally satisfactory results. The only thing holding the Faction of Disorder together is hatred of Deplorables.
For society to work there must be authorities who are often benevolent and competent. When this happens the people trust them more and so they can lead more effectively. For our authorities to be benevolent and competent they must reject much of their foolish and godless current doctrine. Will they? Not any time soon. Apparently a good dose of catastrophe will be the only way to break the spell.
Good leadership requires good followers, so the general populace also bears responsibility for the current mess. But the man in the street cannot do anything to bring about good authorities. All he can do is respond properly should such authorities appear.