Friday, 8 February 2008

"And two Presidents with the last name, Palmer...."

There was a documentary on More4 the other night where Dave Gorman lamented the decline of the traditional, American, family-owned business: ‘Mom and Pop’ stores as they know them over there. A shame then that this decline has not spread to Washington.

The White House is turning into a family-owned business. The last twenty years have seen two presidents with the last name Bush and, if Super Tuesday is any indication, may well see two presidents with the last name Clinton. The land of opportunity is turning ever more into a country where social class pins an individual down: the American Dream of any person’s hard work and perseverance paying off becomes a joke if even something as monumentally important as the Presidency can be secured by social connections. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Obviously the United Kingdom is in this sorry state at the moment. The title of ‘Head of State’ is passed down through the generations of the Windsor House and will be ad infinitum. The British may be stuck with a family-owned business running the country but there’s no reason for the Americans to be. The US Government needs to amend the Constitution to prevent people from the same immediate family achieving the Presidency for the simple reason that family members can have an undeniable and, in the case of George Bush Jr., damaging influence on wide-ranging policy decisions. Would Bush have invaded Iraq if his daddy hadn’t done it first? Would Bush even have become President if his daddy hadn’t first?

For the record, I don’t think ‘Hillary’ would be a bad President per se (as long as she doesn’t invade Cuba) or even that her husband was a bad President. The point I’ve laboriously tried to make is that it doesn’t seem right to make politics a family business. Politics needs to be about ideas, ambitions, and soul, rather than names, personalities, and connections. Family members successively occupying similar places of power is symptomatic of a lack of social mobility and a society where people are confined to their class because of their parent’s class is undeserving of the title of ‘a democracy’. The United States needs to amend their Constitution before it’s too late.

No comments: