Feb 12, 2008

Dynasties: coming to American politics near you

by Jen Slothower
When someone says the word “dynasty” in the United States, people think of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Boston Celtics, the UCLA Bruins or the New York Yankees. In terms of politics, they associate dynasties with those other countries that have had rulers for long periods of time.

The U.S., however, should realize that the regimes it so quickly denounces in other countries are not a foreign concept to American politics.

If Sen. Hillary Clinton were to win her party’s nomination and make it to the White House, the land of the free and the home of the brave will find itself in the midst of a 28-year, two-family reign.

Furthermore, the possibility of a husband and wife leading his country for the time complicates the American presidential method, which for years has been limited and held accountable to keep one entity from holding power for too long.

While America prides itself on democracy and a political system full of checks and balances, the nation has missed noticing that it has a tendency of practicing partisan politics that will cause this country to replicate the ruling tendencies of the nations around the world America tries so hard not to be.

It was an entirely different manner when George W. Bush took office eight years after George H.W. Bush. They were two separate men with at least a few differing political beliefs. Bush Sr. was hardly a kingmaker — Bush Jr. won a tough election where he had to wrest power out of the Democrats’ hands.

If Hillary Clinton were to win this year, however, a totally different situation would arise. Never before has a relationship as close as that of husband and wife spawned a set of rulers in American politics. Throughout the campaign, Hillary has credited the years of Bill’s presidency as years of her own experience, but in retrospect, Bill still takes credit for his presidency.

Who exactly was running the show? Who made those decisions? And will the positions really flip-flop if the Clintons put the furniture back in the White House?

Obviously, voters have been worrying about this all through the primary season, especially when Bill decided to come out of the woodwork and start furiously campaigning for his wife — or against her, depending how riled up he got about certain issues. What the Clinton campaign has found, however, is an even more complex situation. People now are not only worried about the intricacies of a husband-wife combo, they now see that Bill is still also very active in politics.

While both of the Clintons are extremely capable individuals with distinct ideas, together they present a different picture. Many pundits are crying for Bill to step aside and let the actual candidate run the show. Even though the 22nd Constitutional amendment disqualifies one candidate from running the country beyond two terms, Bill may have just found a way around that rule.

In marriage, two become one, whether it be deliberately or a subconscious rendering that causes their hearts, spirits and even beliefs to come together. This is quite apparent in the Clinton campaign. Yes, they are still their own persons, but the merging of heart and mind in politics shows that they will forever be a cohesive entity.

The purpose of limiting a president’s term was to increase the power of democracy and lessen the effect that one man could have on the nation. Although Hillary is a different person, the way the campaign has played out casts a dark shadow over the technicality that has brought new life to the reign of a single view for not just two terms but maybe three or four.

If democracy is what this country is striving for, citizens should be warned that the trends that causing Americans to call foreign countries undemocratic are not so foreign after all. Contact Jen Slothower at jrslothower@liberty.edu.
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