Its long been pointed out that in America, celebrities have culturally filled the role of royalty.This reminded me of an idea some friends and I were tossing around one night, years ago. DD is correct in saying that celebrity fills an analogous role to royalty in our society. Some people have a deep need for a source of authority they can idolize and fixate upon. Idolizing authority, weak-sauced as it is, is completely predictable - an inescapable part of the human condition.
My concern, of course, is politics, and it is therefore these idolaters' electoral influence that I am interested in examining. Idolatry is poisonous to democracy, for voters need to make choices based on fact and principle rather than on a cult of personality. Unfortunately, without a national royalty these authoritarians idolize political leaders, which helps lead to the vicious invective in our politics. The Idols grow isomorphic to the nation itself, so criticizing that leader becomes tantamount to treason. Sound familiar?
So, why not have an elected Prince? Not only would we diminish the influence of irrational idolatry in our elections, but we'd kill two birds with one stone by removing much of the ceremonial component from the President's shoulders. It could be a good idea.
Glenn Greenwald touched upon this with his essays on the lack of political ideology in the Bush movement:
Greenwald calls this a cult-like mentality, but I'll continue referring to them as idolaters. If we had royalty, it would sink some of these idolaters out of the political process since they would have a more appropriate target for their fixation. The intense personal identification and nationalistic pride that is a pox on electoral democracy is a boon to monarchy.
It used to be the case that in order to be considered a "liberal" or someone "of the Left," one had to actually ascribe to liberal views on the important policy issues of the day - social spending, abortion, the death penalty, affirmative action, immigration, "judicial activism," hate speech laws, gay rights, utopian foreign policies, etc. etc. These days, to be a "liberal," such views are no longer necessary.
Now, in order to be considered a "liberal," only one thing is required - a failure to pledge blind loyalty to George W. Bush. The minute one criticizes him is the minute that one becomes a "liberal," regardless of the ground on which the criticism is based. And the more one criticizes him, by definition, the more "liberal" one is. Whether one is a "liberal" -- or, for that matter, a "conservative" -- is now no longer a function of one's actual political views, but is a function purely of one's personal loyalty to George Bush....
If it now places one "on the Left" to oppose unrestrained power and invasiveness asserted by the Federal Government along with lawlessness on the part of our highest government officials, so be it. The rage-based reverence for The President as Commander-in-Chief -- and the creepy, blind faith vested in his goodness -- is not a movement I recognize as being political, conservative or even American.
A movement which has as its shining lights a woman who advocates the death of her political opponents, another woman who is a proponent of concentration camps, a magazine which advocates the imprisonment of journalists who expose government actions of dubious legality, all topped off by a President who believes he has the power to secretly engage in activities which the American people, through their Congress, have made it a crime to engage in, is a movement motivated by lots of different things. Political ideology isn't one of them.