Is it time to bring a monarchy to the United States, or time to end one?
Is it time to bring a monarchy to the United States? Or is it time to end one?
The New York Times recently ran a fascinating article by Leslie Wayne putting forth arguments from the International Monarchist League. Summarizing them, Wayne wrote, "Their core arguments: Countries with monarchies are better off because royal families act as a unifying force and a powerful symbol; monarchies rise above politics; and nations with royalty are generally richer and more stable."
What the author misses is that we already have an aristocracy here in the United States: rule by the rich. In fact, much of American history is the story of the battle between the interests of the "general welfare" of our citizens, and the interests of the #MorbidlyRich.
Here's where we are right now:
- A billionaire oligarch programs his very own entire television news network to promote the interests of the billionaire class, with such effectiveness that average working people are repeating billionaire-helpful memes like "cut regulations," "shrink government," and "cut taxes" -- policies that will cause more working people and their children to get sick and/or die, will transfer more money and power from "we the people" to a few oligarchs, and will lower working-class wages over time.
- A small group of billionaires have funneled so much money into our political sphere that "normal" Republicans like Jeff Flake and Bob Corker point out that they couldn't get elected in today's environment because they'd face rightwing-billionaire-funded primary challengers.
- The corporate media (including online media), heavily influenced by the roughly billion dollars the Koch Network, Adelson, Mercers, etc. poured through their advertising coffers and into their profits in the last election, won't even mention in their "news" reporting that billionaire oligarchs are mainly calling the tunes in American politics, particularly in the GOP.
- Former President Jimmy Carter pointed out on my radio show that the US "is now an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery," in part as a result of the right-wing Supreme Court decision in Citizens United.
- Nobody in corporate media, even on the "corporate left," is willing to explicitly point out how billionaires and the companies that made them rich control and define the boundaries of "acceptable" political debate in our country.
- Thus, there's no honest discussion in American media of why the GOP denies climate change (to profit petro-billionaires), no discussion of the daily damage being done to our consumer and workplace protections, and no discussion of the horrors being inflicted on our public lands and environment by Zinke and Pruitt, the guys billionaire-toady Mike Pence chose to run Interior and the EPA. There's not even a discussion of the major issue animating American politics just one century ago: corporate mergers and how they damage small business and small towns.
It's been this way before in American history, though not in our lifetimes. The last time the morbidly rich had this much power in American politics was the 1920s, when an orgy of tax-cutting and deregulation of banking led to the Republican Great Depression.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt stepped up to challenge those he called the Economic Royalists, explicitly calling them out. In 1936, FDR said:
"For out of this modern civilization economic royalists carved new dynasties. New kingdoms were built upon concentration of control over material things. Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities, new machinery of industry and agriculture, of labor and capital -- all undreamed of by the Fathers -- the whole structure of modern life was impressed into this royal service.
"There was no place among this royalty for our many thousands of small business men and merchants who sought to make a worthy use of the American system of initiative and profit...
"It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over Government itself.