The United States needs a king (or queen).

July 5, 2006 | By | Reply More

My father-in-law (now deceased) sometimes commented that the United States needed an aristocracy to give a “face” to our nation.   He suggested that this arrangement would allow the power-holding leaders of the United States to spend more time doing the hard work of government in a less ostentatious and more effective way by allowing the King and/or queen of the United States to represent us at attend weddings, funerals and civic ceremonies.

At first, I was suspicious of my father-in-law’s idea, but now I am a true believer.  I was pleased to see that Philip Slater had the same idea and took it even further in a recent Huffpo post:

Most viable countries in the world today make a separation between the symbolic head of the nation (king, queen, president) and its political leader (prime minister, premier). The former generally has little power but great prestige–he or she represents the nation as a whole and has major ritual functions. The latter actually gets his or her hands dirty running the country.

The United States is virtually alone among major nations in failing to make this separation. As a result, any mediocrity–any two-bit hack or puerile frat boy–can become the living symbol of our entire nation merely by declaring war on someone. Which, for the small-minded and power-hungry, naturally increases the temptation to do just that.

Who would this person be?  How about the living person who last served as president?  Give that person a budget and a plane and let him or her tour the world to shake hands, dine with the royalty of the other countries and encourage world peace in a poetic way.  Our King or Queen would become the object of deep-seated national loyalties. We could thus gather around our symbolic leader to cheer while expecting more in the way of managment skills from our real leaders.  This arrangement would also make it harder for our real leaders to distance themselves from their own bad decisions:

We need desperately to make the same division in our society that other nations do–to create a position of symbolic leadership so that our President doesn’t get clothed in the flag whenever he decides to play soldier.

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Category: Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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