I would like to salute Colonel Roehm's fine letter to Monday's Havre Daily News, especially what should have been the effective use of its last word, "cronyism." Unfortunately, I am instead troubled by the preponderance of people in my circle, especially younger people, who don't know what the word means. I hope you will give me a column inch or two to provide a brief explanation of the word, an explanation based on my synthesis of various dictionary and encyclopedia definitions.
1. Cronyism is showing partiality to long-standing friends, especially by appointing them to positions of authority, regardless of their qualifications. Hence, cronyism is contrary in practice and principle to meritocracy, wherein folk are appointed according to experience, credentials and education. What we like to think of as "The American Way."
2. Cronyism exists when the appointer and the beneficiary are in social contact, for example at college football games.
3. All appointments that are suspected of being cronyism are controversial. The appointed party may choose to either suppress, disquiet or ignore the controversy or offer vague non-explanations based on empty vaguely sinister words like "business" or "networking." These explanations never stand up to the slightest scrutiny.
I have refrained here from offering any local instances of cronyism. Montana readers, those who have long known the meaning (and always negative impact) of cronyism and those who are just learning, will not have to look too far to find specifically detailed accounts to further flesh out the general definition of cronyism that I've presented here.