"To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely," Edmund Burke wrote. Easy for him to say: He was English. Who doesn't love being ruled by a patrilineal order of puffy gilded-crowned pure-breeds? Americans, that's who. But dammit, this anti-monarchism is just killing us, according to Politico Magazine.
This country is split right down the middle, writes Michael Auslin, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. We are being torn asunder like the toga covering Justice, pried apart by culture warriors and partisan judges clutching madly at the coverings of her bosom. To heal our divisions, "we need a person who can sit above politics and help strengthen our commitment to republican values. We need a king, or something like one."
You may have thought we fixed this already, what with the long tradition of American presidential hagiography and its galvanization by our current Kenyan socialist dictatorship. You thought wrong! As Auslin calmly explains, Obama is a political clown who can't lead, or "serve a purpose above politics," because he lied about you being able to keep your crappy insurance, and also he "unleashed a blisteringly critical speech on the budget" once, when we really needed healing.
President Obama has repeatedly referred to his Republican congressional opponents as hostage takers, while supposedly serious commentators call them "political terrorists," a vicious label in a country fighting a decade-plus-long war on terrorism.
How can we win a war, any war, if we don't have a transcendent, universally popular head of state? A dear leader, if you will? You see, in some other powerful countries, there are "kings" and "emperors" and "presidents" who don't actually do politics, or stuff in general, but exist only as a symbol of what said countries are and ought to be.
We have no such safety valve in the United States. Our experiment in self-government has progressed to the point where the differences in our increasingly complex country are now the salient feature of public life... There is, for many Americans, nowhere to turn to find a sense of common meaning.
Sociopolitical heterogeneity is the worst, people. What would make America better is if we had a single completely apolitical icon to stand in for America itself, to be a bastion of its values—values we all know and share and would never, ever, ever disagree on. That would really help us to remember what really matters—America the thing, not America the tenuous ever-shifting political entity—and to shut up about petty differences that cleave us as a people, like who's rich or poor, who hates gays or not, whether women have it worse than men, how to stop mass killers in kindergarten classrooms, or whether the sick deserve help.
What would such a head of state look like? Maybe this guy. No, the guy on the right. Hindenburg. You heard of him? President of Germany? The man in charge, he was.
Or this guy.
It might be helpful to note that American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Auslin is a trained "Japanologist" who's spent his life studying the Far Eastern island empire. That may be relevant to his argument for apolitical quasi-religious monarchs. I don't really know. I wish I had a king to help me sort through all this.
But no matter. What is Auslin proposing? How do we make monarchism consummately American? "Let's call the new national symbol our First Citizen," he writes. Send him to all the public ceremonial outings. Let him be seen. And give him a 15-year term. See? That's not a dictator, that's a calming hand. Think of him (not "her", ha ha) not as a father of the homeland, but as a big brother.
I like the sound of this gig. I dig sporting events and can pardon Thanksgiving turkeys. What are we looking for in a First Citizen, exactly?
Who would be eligible? No current or past politician could be chosen as First Citizen, nor could anyone having a leadership role in any party. No one having served in the position could later be eligible to run for elected office.
Sounds great! We don't want Newts or Bubbas mucking up these holy works.
People who have publicly taken prominent roles in advocating any policy or political position would be ineligible.
Ummmmmm. So, the titular head of state should have no established public opinions on any issues? Doesn't that disqualify all of us and our old racist sexist uncles?
No one convicted of a felony or publicly known for embarrassing behavior or an unsavory personal past will be considered.
Ouch. Sorry, David Brooks.
Someone evidencing a deep knowledge of American history, its guiding principles and its evolution would be a preferred selection. To help ensure the gravitas of the office, no one under 55 could be chosen.
I think I have the perfect candidate.