Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Of Dynasties and Term Limits

Inevitably the first question I am asked, after I have convinced someone that I am indeed serious about being a monarchist, is: what if the king is bad? ( Never mind that the question is usually posed by a person that could not himself even spot wicked behavior nor every day evil if it settled on their head).  I will feel obliged to answer that question when he can answer mine: what do you do about an electorate that has become so corrupt and self-centered that it cannot recognize, much less choose the good?  I suspect the former will be easier to remedy than the latter.

As with most things, I think the underlying assumptions are more interesting and more important than the question itself. Is there something inherently superior in changing leaders often or regularly to an enduring line of rulers?  Elected politicians (even career politicians) have very short tenures.  In the United States the average politician spends two to twelve years in a specific office.  This "revolving-door" of office holders creates an kind of hyper-activity.  Legislators multiply laws to deal with discovered or contrived problems and fears.  They feel obligated to make their mark almost as compulsively as a dog does.  This constant political turnover also fosters a certain indifference to the long run.  Why worry if popular policies will cause crisis only when one is no longer running for reelection?  Evidence of fiscal irresponsibility in the United States includes chronic budget deficits, explicit national debt, and the still larger liabilities being accumulated over Medicare and Social Security.  Yet politicians continue to offer new plums because they know they won't have to answer for them in the long run but must justify their time in office now.

A monarch is not dependent on being elected and reelected.  He embodies continuity as does the dynasty.  He has no other interest than the maintenance of order and liberty.  Dynastic continuity parallels the the rule of law.  The king symbolizes a state of affairs in which profound political change , though eventually possible, cannot occur without ample time for consideration.  The king stands in contrast to legislators and bureaucrats, who are inclined to think, by the very nature of their jobs, that diligent performance means multiplying laws and regulations.  Continuity is neither rigidity nor blind conservatism.  With regard to my opening statements, the damage done to the individual by a good politician is more that that done by a bad king, simply because of the nature of the structures in which they work.

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