We need a monarch.

April 4, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More

I hate to sound like a Tea-Party nutbag, but I really love the United States’ Constitution. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a free-speech fanatic. I love the Constitution’s sharp focus on individual liberties, its emphasis on the rights of the accused, and that grade-school-civics favorite, the checks and balances of power. I despair when these ideals meet real-life sacrifices, especially glaring ones like, oh, the utter lack of Congressional declarations of war since WWII. I also don’t like to sully the document’s purity with excessive amendments, interpretations and adaptations. No Defense of Marriage Amendment, please, but while you’re at it, no marriage at all (it violates the establishment clause, you see).

But don’t call me a Scalia-esque strict constructionist. If I could, I would copy-edit the otherwise brilliant Constitution and correct a centuries-old omission with no qualms: I would give the United States a monarch.

 Leave this man alone. Image provided with permission by Wikimedia Commons.

Leave this man alone. Image provided with permission by Wikimedia Commons.

It probably seems unamerican, undemocratic and all-around anti-freedom-y to propose that we foist an unquestioned figure to the crown of government. It probably sounds old-fashioned, all uppity and needlessly symbolic and European. I know it does. It’s exactly my point.

In the United States, the President must shoulder many burdensome responsibilities. We’ve all learned this in grade-school-civics: the many hats of the president, the demanding roles of head of state, head of government, leader of his party, commander-in-chief, turkey pardoner and reluctant flag-pin model.

“Head of State” is the problem. We ask not only that our President hold executive office, appoint members of government, sign bills into law and, erm, oversee our undeclared “wars”/foreign occupations; he must also pardon our turkeys, visit our industrial plants and feign interest, tell us that everything is Going to Be Ok, and effect our national zeitgeist for rest of the world to see.

The President must both manage and embody a constant national PR campaign. It’s endless. As I look through this slideshow of Obama reluctantly visiting dull photo-ops, I feel a swell of pity and empathetic ennui. This man has more pressing concerns. We make him prattle around like Miss America. We grief him when he doesn’t wear a pin, when his wife doesn’t wear sleeves.

It shouldn’t be any of our damn business. When we ask one human animal to both symbolize our nation and conduct the gritty work of actually running that nation, we set ourselves up for disappointment. The man who grinds the sausage should not be expected to also sell it, and certainly not while wearing the blood-stained coveralls marred with the signs of his business.

We should not expect someone to live entrenched in political conflict and face it daily with a sterling, all-national smile. Like a Prime Minister, the President should be able to get messy, start fights, have flaws. In this country, we allow visible personality flaws in Vice Presidents and Chiefs-of-Staff only.

We need a monarch. We need someone insulated from political responsibility and reelection who can move throughout the world as a living, nigh-permanent symbol. We need them to lend stability and familiarity to our state. We need them to reassure us that our nation is Strong, Unified and Meaningful, even as our President realizes it is Crumbling, Partisan and Kinda Lost. Most of all, we need a monarch to do all the perfunctory, cheesy-as-hell photo ops. We still have a lot of super-boring factories and store floors to cover, after all.

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About the Author ()

Erika is a PhD student in Social Psychology living in Chicago. Here on DI she most often writes about current events, psychology, skepticism, media and internet culture.

Comments (2)

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  1. Andrew says:

    I don't think we need a monarch, I think we need to change the term from 4, to 6-8 years. The President arrives, spends the first year learning the job, dealing with his predecessors bullshit, and then spends the next 2 years working. At that point, it's an entire year wasted on stump speeches and kissing babies. So we really only get a President for 4 years (if he isn't given a second term) and even then, the effects are not even felt until he is gone.

    But more to the point, what's wrong with seeing a human face on a President? Do trips to the local auto plant not give us insights into him, as well as giving him a more grounded personality in his presidency? It's one thing to say "Mr. President, 150,000 people lost their jobs today!" and another thing to have him visit the local unemployment office and talk to people. A President would become jaded sitting in his office all day, directing people and telling them what to do. One thing that makes my father a great businessman, is that he interacts with the plebeians; talks to them, hears their victories and defeats, and walks the same paths that they do.

    On top of that, any world leader engages in pomp and circumstance because it's part of the job. Having someone who simply engages in these activities doesn't benefit anyone, as we'd know they were just a figurehead, and he'd just ride around with a dull look on his face.

    At the end of the day, what would really help the situation, is if people gave the President a fucking break.

  2. Dan Klarmann says:

    The Confederate constitution (1861) called for a president to serve just one term of 6 years, unless recalled. (wiki: President of the Confederate States of America). Back in the 1860's they figured it was a waste of an executive and his team to spend part of his term campaigning for the next term.

    Ninety more years after that we limited the U.S. presidency to 8 years, about 2 of which are spent campaigning for the second 4. (Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution)

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