In today’s Financial Times, our old friend Grover Norquist complains about the “dynastic disease” in American politics.
“We are about to hold a presidential election,” he writes, “that may extend a sequence that gives the land of the free four years of George H.W. Bush, eight years of William Clinton, eight years of George W. Bush, son of, and the start of eight years of Hillary Clinton, wife of.”
Grover notes that America was set up as a country without an aristocracy. No inherited titles. No king. No purple robes.
But now there is a “creeping tendency to see elected office as a family heirloom”. Not just in the White House, but in Congress too. Grover cites dozens of examples. Some are very familiar. Certain families have national brand names that prove useful to gullible voters – Kennedys, Bushes, Gores. Most are just local brands like the Dingells of Michigan. And sometimes the desire to keep a political post in the family reaches comic levels. When Senator Mel Carnahan died just before an election, somehow his widow won the race – and she wasn’t even on the ballot.
But Grover is no medical man. He is wrong about the ‘disease.’ It’s not a disease at all. It’s merely politics in its natural, unhealthy condition. If the idea of democracy is that voters put their heads together and select the most worthy candidate, the whole thing is a fraud. Just look at Congress. What voters really do is select the fellow with the best haircut, the best line of guff, or the smoothest fundraising machinery. And it helps to have name recognition. That’s how popular actors – such as Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger – were able to break into the business. People do not really select the best man for the job; they have no way of knowing what the job is or who would be best for it. Instead, they buy their candidates like bath soap…based on the jingle that most appeals to them. And that’s why a hereditary monarch is actually better than an elected president. Monarchs are born to rule, rather than elected to it; that is, they are chosen by chance rather than by fraud.
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