In a sobering bit of perspective from across the pond, a conservative British politician is hoping to remind Americans that we’re in danger of losing our grasp on one of the biggest principles that helped define our nation’s painful separation from the monarchy.
In an opinion piece this week for the Washington Examiner, Dan Hannan — a British Conservative Party member and Member of the European Parliament (MEP) — warned Americans against embracing hereditary political dynasties. Focusing specifically on the likely continuation of the Bush-Clinton family power struggle, Hannan argued there’s little difference between a class system imposed through state power and one accepted through the slow acquiescence of the people.
Here’s a sample:
… These days, the British Establishment is not made up of dukes or bishops, but of radical lawyers, politically correct broadcasters, avant-garde artists, heads of government agencies and, behind them, the mass of licensors, regulators, inspectors, officials and judges who run the country without the bother of getting themselves elected to anything. They’re the ones who truly radiate entitlement.
David Cameron’s opponents might be on firmer ground if they pointed to his relatively slight experience outside government. But they’ll never do it, because that criticism applies far more strongly to their own side. Neither Ed Miliband, the Labor leader, nor Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat, has ever had a job beyond politics.
That’s the kind of entitlement that should worry us. Not the supposed swagger of the posh, but the world-view of politicians who are so much a part of the governing class that they can no longer discharge the primary purpose of the elected representative — to ensure that the state machine works for the rest of the country rather than the other way around.
Can you think of anyone in American politics who might have that problem? Here’s a clue. On the day she announced her candidacy, I had a look at Hillary Clinton’s Twitter page. What, I wondered, might it tell me about her likely priorities in government? She followed nine other accounts: Clinton Global Initiative, Clinton Foundation, Clinton School, Clinton Library, Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Women in Public Service, Too Small to Fail and Beyond Differences. (To be fair, five more accounts have since been added: @HillaryforSC, @HillaryforNV, @HillaryforNH, @HillaryforIA and @HillaryforNY.)
And why not? When you’ve been in and around government at the highest level for long enough, you’re bound to start taking it for granted. You forget that you are passing through institutions that are greater than you are. It becomes all about you.
… Are we really contemplating another Bush-Clinton contest in 2016?
If you couldn’t tell, Hannon is disappointed by this phenomenon in the United States. The American system, by design, “depended on constantly changing the people at the top,” he writes. “If certain families got it into their heads that the republic was their plaything, America would descend into oligarchy as surely as if it had a hereditary nobility.”
“If,” he states.
Aren’t we past that?
Read Hannan’s whole piece at Washington Examiner.