Sunday, June 03, 2012
Of Cabbageheads and Kings*
You may have been following some of the ongoing grand hoopla about the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II of England (actually, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but we won't split that political hair) - she is celebrating 60 years on the throne, putting her in second place as the longest-reigning monarch in history, behind her great-great-great** grandmother, Queen Victoria (who reigned for 63 years). Nobody does pageantry like our British cousins, and they are pulling out the stops to make this event a memorable celebration.
Here in the states, of course, we don't have a king or queen (well, except for Elvis of course), having fought a bitter war against the mother country to get rid of one in the first place. But it's interesting to read some of the observations being made in conjunction with the Diamond Jubilee that hypothesize whether we'd be better off with a monarch rather than the chaotic and dysfunctional government we are struggling with today. As it happens, this is a subject to which I've given a great deal of thought. Here are the pros and cons of a monarchy as I see them:
1. Really cool parades. I attended the Queen's Birthday parade in Berlin in 1982 and was thrilled by the spectacle.
2. A respected, apolitical figure around whom everyone can rally.
3. Ability to separate the role of head of state (the monarch) from head of government (the prime minister or whatever). This is no small thing when you consider that in this country, by combining the two roles in the form of a single president, we condemn the incumbent to the third role of chief political hack for his party, making him (or her) waste valuable time and effort with unseemly political tasks rather than focusing on national problems. A constitutional monarch effects this separation, as does the system in Germany which provides for a President as the head of state and a Chancellor as head of government. Here at home, this doesn't really matter most days except to protocol folks who worry about who rates a State Dinner at the White house.
4. "Off with their heads!" is a viable option for dealing with 535 elected ass clowns who put political purity and shameless vote pandering above cooperating to solve problems ...
1. Really cool parades. They are, after all, expensive. And once sequestration kicks in when Congress is unable/unwilling to fix our budgetary problems, it will be difficult to scrape up enough military equipment and troops for a decent parade, anyhow.
2. The whole ruling families thing. Bush II ... 'nuff said.
3. Waste of a perfectly good Revolutionary War.
4. Crowned heads don't always rest easy ...
For a more detailed look at the what-if-we-had-a-queen question, you can read this interesting piece by Autumn Brewington in yesterday's Washington Post.
Would we be better off with a constitutional monarch rather than an elected president? There are days you could make the argument ... such as most days when Congress is in session. But on reflection, I guess I'd rather stick with the President and our stable of elected reprehensives. At least they can be voted out by their corporate sponsors at regular intervals, sparing us the trouble of messy revolutions.
Have a good day. Best wishes to Queen Elizabeth on her jubilee ... at least there's one person with job security.
More thoughts tomorrow.
* With apologies to Lewis Carroll.
** I believe I have the correct number of "greats" here.