We praise democracy, but we don’t seem to like it very much. Voting rates in America are terrible, and voters seem to prefer established families or Reality TV stars to experienced politicians. Most people agree that our democratic electoral system has been corrupted by money, but there doesn’t seem to be much happening to change that any time soon.
This phenomena is not just American, where we’ve had a succession of Adams, Roosevelt, Bush, and perhaps, Clinton; Canadians just elected Justin Trudeau, son of former Premier Elliot Trudeau. In other countries, family members ascend to power, seeming on the value of family name alone. This has happened in the Philippines, Argentina and various other democracies around the globe. For a variety of reasons, democratic people still seem to like the idea of Royalty.
I’m not talking about Royalty of the “divine right” sort, such as fueled monarchies around the world for many centuries. God, after all, must have gone crazy trying to keep up with all those seeking an exclusive endorsement. Bloodline royalty succession provides the ultimate in class distinction; to be the member of a royal family bestows property, position and honor in those countries ruled by monarchy. Thus the Saudi Royal family governs with an iron fist; in some countries insulting the Royal monarch remains a capital offense. A man in Thailand has been recently arrested for insulting Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej’s dog, Tongdaeng.
Hollywood provides our modern American model of royalty: larger than life personalities paid vast sums of money surrounded by crowds of adoring fans, and enjoying a seamless relationship with mass-media. Accordingly, Hollywood has sent a number of its celebrities into the halls of politics; Ronald Reagan, George Raft, Fred Thompson, Sonny Bono, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, to name a few. Name recognition, it appears, transcends policy position, job experience, or qualifications.
Donald Trump, the billionaire real estate developer who got his start with just “a small loan of one-million dollars” from his developer father, has used his wealth and Reality TV celebrity to his advantage. Despite his tenuous grasp of the issues or even reality, he leads the pack of Republicans in his quest for the nomination of his party. His is a naked call to the citizens to support Royalty, if there ever were one.
Hillary Clinton has political experience, but it’s unlikely she would be a contender for the Democratic party nomination if her husband had not been a two-term President. Her Royalty rating is high, despite the scandal plagued history of Bill Clinton, whose dalliance with 21-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky is the stuff of “devil in a blue dress” legend. Hillary meets all the proper “royalty” criteria; she’s fabulously wealthy, adored by many, and the darling of the media. Is she qualified? Perhaps, but America, it seems, would rather recycle the rich and famous than evaluate leaders based on sound criteria.
Perhaps America should simply give up on its Democracy thingy and surrender to Royalty at the Presidential level. This would ease the way for Chelsea Clinton, and save the country tons of money. A coronation rather than inauguration would allow Hollywood to produce a majestic celebration, something truly grand to compete with the British Crown for attention. The media would lap it up and America could spend at least a week ogling over gowns, balls, and red carpets.
Democracy is a pain in the neck, anyway. Just ask Plato.