As the battle for the 2016 presidential race begins to heat up, and the sad parade of bloated egoists, maniacal power mongers, and self-delusional freaks files past our news feeds, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this year’s contest will ultimately revolve around two more figures from what can only be described as America’s most prominent “royal” families—the Bushes and Clintons.
In times of crisis, real or perceived, Americans seem to yearn for the royal dynasties of old, when primogeniture, the custom of passing the throne on to the next family member in line, was the law of the land. While most monarchies in Europe have eliminated the practice, Americans, with our notoriously short memories and historical amnesia, seem to be hankering for that boot upon our necks once again, in this case Jeb Bush’s and Hillary Clinton’s.
Despite her experience, Hillary remains something of an enigma to me. She spent eight years as one of the most active first ladies in American history, served as a U.S. Senator, ran an aggressive presidential campaign in 2008, and worked as the Secretary of State under Obama for years. And yet, I still couldn’t tell you exactly where she stands on any particular issue, what she’s supposedly passionate about or hopes to accomplish beyond fulfilling the penultimate goal on her professional achievement list.
In recent months, she’s also displayed an unwholesome willingness to obfuscate and play fast and loose with the facts. Her explanation concerning her use of private e-mails to conduct State Department business was an example of political arrogance at its most obnoxious.
Hillary’s husband, Bill Clinton, may have been a Horatio Alger, pulled up from the bootstraps success story, but he was hardly a pillar of virtue or sound policy making during his eight years in office. While NAFTA and his social reforms read like conservative Republican legislation, the man also displayed the kind of moral obliviousness that would have made certain political figures from another of America’s dynastic families, the Kennedys, blush.
And then there’s Jeb Bush, a man who can be counted on to carry out the policies of his family predecessors, his father George H.W, and brother George W.: trickle down economics, cuts to capital gains and estate taxes, tax breaks favorable to corporations, etc, etc.
In fact, the Bush families main talent seems to be convincing the average American that tax and environmental policies favoring corporations and the obscenely wealthy are in the best interest of everyone.
To his credit, W. did do a pretty good job of promoting himself as a rootin’ tootin’ cowboy and not a spoiled man-child who relied on wealthy friends and family members to bail him out of one failed business venture after another. That’s a trick his father never pulled off.
Frankly, anyone left standing after the bloodbaths of the primaries and the general election is almost guaranteed to be a monstrous, psychological aberration of the human animal, a preternaturally vicious and cunning creature for whom the truth is as malleable and open to reinterpretation as it is for the average paranoid schizophrenic. That’s a subgroup, by the way, with which politicians also share an almost inconceivable sense of paranoia and hatred of their fellow Homo sapiens. It’s an ugly business, but someone has to do it.
But should that someone come from a family who takes privilege as a birthright, whose interaction with anyone below their own social strata begins and ends with housemaids, waiters, and foot servants?
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Bushes and Clintons have drawn much of their support from the states of the southern U.S., where a fascination with the trappings of royalty, in the form of pageants and the crowning of kings and queens for every small town festival persists as a part of the regions “patriotic” birth right.
If memory serves, this country fought a war to be free of such nonsense, from the passing down of the royal scepter to the next family member in line to the celebration of their inbred grandeur at the expense of the common citizenry.
This country should leave its obsession with royalty and acceptance of its obscene excesses exactly where they belong—the rubbish bin of history.