MONARCHY IN THE U.S.A.
“God save the queen/ We mean it man/ And there is no future/ In England’s dreams” – The Sex Pistols.
A few months ago, I finished a biography of Thomas Jefferson by Jon Meacham. Meacham presented a complex caricature of the man we know as our third president and greatest champion of States Rights. It wasn’t a puff piece – Jefferson’s failure as Virginia’s governor and relationship with a slave named Sally Hemmings, which began when Hemmings was a teenager, were not skipped.
Whatever Jefferson’s failures, the man had conviction. He didn’t just write the Declaration of Independence, he did so at a time when that document was, undoubtedly, treason. Had the British won our first war, our Forefathers all faced summary execution. And until the last few years, we were continually on the verge of losing. Jefferson kept the faith.
Jefferson’s candidacy for president in 1800 was a response to the rise of a monarchist movement in colonial America. There was much to figure out in the first decade of the first Republic and the new Constitution took much of the blame for the chaos. It was hard to have freedom when the limits of freedom – and there had to be some – were unknown. The Revolutionary War was fought for independence from England but not necessarily for democracy. The possibility of reverting to a British-styled constitutional monarchy was real – there were even overtures made to members of the House of Hanover to come help establish some order.
Jefferson wanted to be president to buy the Constitution some time – to protect liberty, democracy, and local government until these concepts proved themselves, and they did. The Republican Party he founded was one of the great sea changes in American political history. Jefferson was, save Washington, the person most responsible for putting our country on the course toward becoming what it is.
After reading Meacham’s account of Jefferson, I thought it would be a nice contrast to read a book about someone who wants to be president to . .. well, I guess just to be president. Hillary Clinton has been in the national public eye for over twenty years now and anyone would have trouble saying just what it is that makes her qualified to head the country. With all her opportunity to lead, where has she ever led anyone? What outcome has she ever effected? (Not counting Benghazi.) More importantly, what outcome does she ever intend to effect?
So I read her book “Hard Choices” just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. It wasn’t a horrible read, as conservative critics made it out to be. It was more of a vacuum – 450 pages of name-dropping and globe-trotting in her role as Secretary of State with another 100 pages or so tacked on at the end giving lip service to the liberal agenda. To hear her tell it, she is friends with virtually everyone in the world. She has no real ideas and less passion – it was obvious she didn’t write this book. At the end, she thanks her “team” that helped put the book together. Read: Ghostwriters.
Hillary’s utter lack of conviction comes across whenever she gives a speech. Calling her robotic would be an insult to the robotics industry. To paraphrase what Dennis Miller once said about Al Gore – Hillary Clinton couldn’t be any more phony if she were a professional Hillary Clinton impersonator. If this is the Democratic presumptive choice for 2016, Republicans should rejoice.
That is, they could have rejoiced until Jeb Bush threw his hat into the ring this week. His support of Common Core alone will likely lose him any chance at his party’s nomination. Because if thirteen plus five equals ten plus three plus ten minus five we can take the sums of those two different calculations and put them into an algorithm, then that might be an easier way to arrive at 18 than just learning numbers. We all learn different, you know.
But, sadly, we can’t discount the House of Bush. The scary thing about the modern Republican Party is that it always chooses an establishment candidate for president. Always. Even Reagan earned his spot through years of working in the party machine.
Upon wrapping up his second term as Florida’s governor in 2007, Jeb Bush became an advisor at Lehman Brothers shortly before it collapsed. A Mitt Romney business record he does not possess. But he did make millions “advising” other companies after Lehman. Now he’s back after sufficiently cashing in on his lineage in the private sector. If his name was anything other than Bush, would he be taken seriously after abandoning the conservative cause to make some comfort money? If his name was Jeb Huckabee, for example, would anyone return his calls?
The times of Jefferson were dire. If John Adams had won the 1800, the shape of our country would be much different today. Adams’ Federalism eventually had its day, but only after the years of small government leadership from Jefferson through Andrew Jackson in the first half of the 1800s provided this country its character.
Our times are just as dire. $17 trillion is a real number even though it seems too big to be so. Some call our national debt the greatest threat to our security – greater than terrorism. You’ll never hear Jeb Bush talk about our debt with any conviction because he is not a conservative. Like Hillary, he is a moderate and an opportunist – wanting to be president not to forward an agenda, but rather just to be president.
Jefferson fought against the impulse of monarchism. Sounds silly today? Well, would we be talking about either Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush if it wasn’t for their husband or father and brother respectively? `If choosing a leader by relation isn’t monarchy, then what is?
The mere candidacy of either must have Thomas Jefferson turning over in his grave.