Recently Rabbi Silfkin posted about the supposed Halachic hierarchy, and how theory and reality are far apart. Rabbi Silfkin was commenting that in theory the hierarchy pyramid is "Talmud-Rishonim-Achronim - Contemporary Gedolim" while in reality it is the exact opposite. Rabbi Silfkin adds:
For anti-rationalists, the Gedolim are much more important than the Rishonim. But even the Gedolim are only respected and followed insofar as their views concord with what the anti-rationalist himself considers legitimate. Amazingly, the hierarchy of rabbinic authority that they loudly claim to be true, is the complete opposite of the one that they actually follow.
A great addition was added in this comment:
Rabbi Slifkin, In your list of authorities over time, you forgot the most recent, theAskanim. Askanim are, in fact, greater in authority than Gedolim as they can decide what the answer to a shailoh is before the Gadol has even been asked the question. In addition, they have access to the signature stamps of the Gedolim and the authority to use them at will when issuing bans and pashkevils. Hence all the nutty decrees that have the signatures of the Gedolim who are then, when confronted, forced to support them instead of saying “Well I didn’t sign on to this meshugas!” (Via Frum Follies)
It is perhaps time we admit a truth. We all choose our rabbanim based on our own values. Furthermore I'm willing to add that very few of us follow one Halachic authority on every matter. We mix and match a little from each rabbi. We all take some Kulot (leniencies) from Rabbi A, and some Kulot from Rabbi B. If you are slightly more intellectually honest you take some of their Chumrot also.
Is this Kosher? No. There is a clear Talmudic injunction against it –
כל הרוצה להחמיר על עצמו לנהוג כחומרי בית שמאי וכחומרי בית הלל על זה נאמר 'וְהַכְּסִיל בַּחֹשֶׁךְ הוֹלֵךְ'. כקולי אילו ואילו נקרא רשע. אלא או כדברי בית שמאי כקוליהם וכחומריהם או כדברי בית הלל כקוליהם וכחומריהם.
(ירושלמי, יבמות ט:א)
Who doesn't have their favorite Kula taken from some obscure book, that you don't pasken like on any other issue? I'm not claiming this is how it should be. I am just stating the fact of how it is.