More Folks Climb Onto the US Royal Family Bandwagon

Back on Inauguration Day I wrote:

Wow, it sure does seem useful to have a single figurehead into which the public can pour all the sorts of adulation and voyeurism that they seem to crave.  That way, the people get folks who can look great at parties and make heart-felt speeches and be charismatic and set fashion trends and sound empathetic and even scold us on minor things.  All without giving up an ounce of liberty.  The problem in the US is we use the Presidency today to fulfill this societal need, but in the process can't help but imbue the office with more and more arbitrary power.  Let's split the two roles.

Last week, Andrew Heaton made a similar proposal in the Federalist, but explained the logic better than I did:

We threw the baby out with the bathwater when we kicked the monarchy out of America, and we ought to bring it back. To be clear, I do not mean the sort of hereditary tyrants who rule North Korea, Saudi Arabia, or the New York Yankees. Rather, I’d like for us to get one of those cute, ornamental throne warmers the Europeans trot around to cut ribbons at events.

In America we’ve combined power and reverence in the office of the presidency, but legal authority and veneration compliment each other about as well as Scotch and back pain medication. It’s safer to ingest them separately....

In America our head of government and head of state both problematically reside in the president. We can see that unholy union in full force during the spasm of pageantry which is the State of the Union address. President Jefferson rightly viewed the whole affair as pompous and monarchical, and sent Congress a letter instead.

Unfortunately the nimbus of deference surrounding the presidency has swelled with time. In 1956 a political scientist named Clinton Rossiter published “The American Presidency,” a tome sopping wet with sycophantic notions about the Oval Office. He described the commander-in-chief as “a combination of scoutmaster, Delphic oracle, hero of the silver screen, and father of the multitudes.”

Gag me. The president is the top bureaucrat, and there’s nothing more American than despising bureaucrats. The government is basically a giant Human Resources Department with tanks, and the president is in charge of it.

My only response to this is to quote from just about every comment section on the internet:  "first!"


  1. Don Surber:

    I thought the Obamas were our Royals

  2. August Hurtel:

    A laughable first. There are actual monarchists out there. Plus plenty of Libertarians who've read Hans Herman Hoppe's 'Democracy, the god that Failed' and realize we'd probably be better off under someone who owns the country rather than someone who gets to put his hand in the cookie jar for 4-8 years.

  3. Carl S:

    I blame George Washington. If he had just accepted the title of king in the first place, future presidents (kings) wouldn't have been able to expand the power of the position so easily. Even non-libertarians would have been naturally opposed to granting more power to a king.

    Also, I agree with August, you really need to stop bragging about being "first". This argument has been around as long as I can remember. It's a classic for political discussion at the bar.

  4. Mars Jackson:

    One of the positives of the Trump presidency is he is taking that shine and air of monarchy off of the office. His goofy statements, his public persona, and his opening of the Oval Office has been a breath of fresh air for people who believe the presidency has emphasized the Head of State over Head of Government. Next I hope that congress removes some presidential power to issue executive orders to get around congressional oversight. In other words, the hatred of Trump may be the best thing that has ever happened for removing some presidential power that was never intended.

  5. Hal_10000:

    Red: first. Mike Royko made this recommendation twenty years ago, regarding Reagan.

  6. ErikTheRed:

    Beat me to the Hoppe reference. I guess that makes you first here. :-)

  7. ErikTheRed:

    Not that I would want a king, but there are some interesting arguments to having a monarchy over the current mess. As August Hurtel mentioned, the permanence of the position places some limits on the short-term thinking. Additionally, people have this tendency to just shrug their shoulders and accept the outcomes of democratic processes because they get another vote in a few years. When the leadership is permanent, "regime change" (however you want to go about it) becomes a more socially acceptable subject.

  8. marque2:

    What hatred of trump? You are delusional like the vagina hat protestors.

  9. herdgadfly:

    After the horrors of the assassination and the deep mourning of a saddened and ashamed nation, the fables began after the live assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby and the white-washed Warren Report. Jackie Kennedy sold the King Arthur/ Camelot theme for those suddenly in love with John Kennedy's memory and the liberals ate it up.

    As for a sudden emotional move to a royal family by the name of Trump - not even a presidential assassination could put Humpty-Dumpty together again.

  10. auralay:

    From this side of the water, I was taught to love the monarchy even if I despise many who occupied the throne. Their essential role is to be commander in chief of the armed forces, thus preventing overly charismatic politicians from taking over the country.
    We have a bunch of ornamental princes over here just gathering dust waiting for The Call. You're welcome to take your pick. (Perhaps one still married to an attractive wife...)

  11. Q46:

    The UK has spares. Serviceable, biddable, well mannered, scrub up well, experienced, bribe-proof, and relatively low maintenance cost.

    Go on-line to

  12. CC:

    There has never been a politician I completely agreed with ever. There has never been one I trusted. Some do some things I agree with, maybe even some great things, but they always always do something stupid and destructive. How anyone can get all mushy and loyal and worshipful about any candidate/officeholder is beyond me. Sure you want your party to win, but do you agree with every single thing they do? And what about when they change their policies in an arbitrary manner, so now dems are supporting something that used to be a republican issue. Is that always good in your eyes?

  13. Tim Broberg:

    Yes, but who shall be the first king?

    I nominate Vermin Supreme.

  14. Matthew Slyfield:

    "How anyone can get all mushy and loyal and worshipful about any candidate/officeholder is beyond me."

    The same way they get all mushy and loyal and worshipful about:

    Other celebrities famous mostly for being famous

  15. tex:

    Seems to me, this is so far down any list of problems, I wonder how it made the blog. I'm not even sure it's a problem at all cuz it might be good that "the man" wielding the power goes out & faces the public from time to time providing an opportunity to throw rotten fruit. But maybe I'm different cuz I don't pay much attention to the people who look great at parties (except fems) & make heart-felt
    speeches (I've been married 45 yrs so I've heard enough nonsense) & be charismatic (fun to have a beer with?) & set fashion trends (I wear only walking shorts, button downs & running shoes) & sound empathetic (wife taught me to say "poor baby" from time to time. . .OR ELSE)
    & even scold us on minor things (as I said, I've been married 45 yrs - I ignore it).

  16. james:

    As we were taught, the Boston Tea Party was a protest against the English asking the Americans to pay for at least some of their defence, through customs tolls.
    Throw out the leaves and a tree might fall on you.

  17. james:

    British America was used as a dumping ground for British criminals such as proles who'd stolen a lady's handkerchief. After the revolution we had to find somewhere else.
    Just think: if you hadn't rebelled, you'd be able to beat the Aussies at cricket.

  18. Fred_Z:

    An old time science fiction author came up with this idea long a go. L. Sprague de Camp I think.

    He also pointed out that many people will expend huge effort and sums of money for the 'public good' to get ennobled.

    Just think, "Warren, Duke of Arizona". Got a ring to it, no?

  19. c_andrew:

    Heinlein promoted its value in "Double Star". Probably following LSdC given their relative ages. I think he may have floated it in another novel but my memory escapes me. (Other than the attempt by the Scots-French nobleman in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" to crown the Professor de la Paz...)

  20. Gil G:

    Not the Kennedys?

  21. Guest:

    That is partly true. The taxes themselves were pretty moderate (even the stamp Tax and others were pretty moderate, as far as that goes). The objection was that Americans weren't given any representation in Parliament in exchange for being taxed. Americans started that debate simply demanding the right of representation in Parliament as the right of Englishmen. Parliament (and the English King George III at the time) saw the demands as seditious challenges to their authority). Americans had been electing legislatures in every colony for about 100 years by that point and were used to self-rule. If parliament had just asked those legislatures for some money to help pay for the defenses against the Indian nations and the French, I think there would not have been a revolution. Unfortunately Parliament didn't want to negotiate at all.

    I think this is the reason why the original constitution (before the amendments) only gave the Federal gov't the power to collect taxes from customs and head taxes on the states. The Federal gov't would have been forced to ask the various state legislatures for the revenue and the states would be the ones to collect the taxes to pay it. A lot of the early constitution was written to correct the things they found objectionable about the way that Parliament had acted, like the fact that new states admitted to the union would have representation in Congress, no matter what the population was in those states...

  22. embutler:

    just what we need...more folks on welfare..
    and we get to adore them too...
    you do know that they are the descendants of successful

  23. james:

    Thank you guest.
    My intervention was a bit tongue in cheek (I get a bit fed up with Warren claiming the US won all the wars, initiated free trade, blah blah).
    So here's some more. At the time the franchise was very limited and the land value (basically the qualification in England to vote) was, in the US a bit hard to discern, since some stroppy injuns might come back and reclaim it. So there would have been very few voters anyway. Maybe a Vanderbilt or a Stuyvesant or someone. Who should have voted in a Dutch parliament?