Smile Politely

Enough with the Nepotism

Do you think Caroline Kennedy is more qualified than the other 19,297,728 New Yorkers to be Hillary Clinton’s place-holder in the Senate? Here are her qualifications: Ambassador Joe Kennedy, President John Kennedy, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Senator Ted Kennedy, Rep. Patrick Kennedy and no major convictions.

Eleven score and a dozen years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Also that you don’t have to be the landowning son of an earl to have a say in the chambers of government. So what happened?

Senator Prescott Bush begat George H.W. Bush begat George W. Bush. Senator Albert Gore begat Senator Albert Gore Jr. And worse: Governor Frank Murkowski appointed Senator Lisa Murkowski.

Here in Illinois: Mayor Richard J. Daley begat Mayor Richard M. Daley. John Stroger begat Todd Stroger. Mike Madigan begat Lisa Madigan. Jesse Jackson begat Jesse Jackson Jr.

Rep. Philip Crane got his brother Dan, a dentist, elected to Congress from our very own district. Dan might be serving to this day were it not for an irresistible 17 year-old.

It’s not the Republicans. Rep. Mo Udall begat one new Senator Udall, his brother begat the other. Birch Bayh begat Evan Bayh. Mel Carnahan married Jean Carnahan begat Russ Carnahan. Rep. Thomas d’Allesandro begat Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

It’s not the Democrats. Gov. John Chafee begat Senator Lincoln Chafee. Gov. John Sununu begat Senator John Sununu. State Senator Peter Snowe’s widow Olympia took over his seat, then married Gov. John McKernan.

It’s the families.

And now, the princeling of the American royal family’s daughter is preening herself, champing at the bit for a seat in an ostensibly popularly elected house of a democratic government. For shame.

I’m not asking for an ignorant, toothless American to be handed this job. I may be asking for an educated American to be given this job, toothsome or otherwise. I want the job to go to someone who earned it. Not to a token, and not to an hereditary peer.

Now we are engaged in a great cultural war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. Ironically, it’s the little people who keep dangling our popular sovereignty over the cliff’s edge of an oligarchical abyss. They just love to romanticize public servants.

I have a monarchist in my own family. She’s the least lettered of my many siblings. Her fascination with all things peerage rivals her fascination with all things Disney. In both cases, it’s about the fantasy.

Royalist tendencies fester among the perpetually lazy. They dream of inheriting power, so they don’t have to work for it. You see this mindset with the Sarah Palin and W apologists. Unlettered people empower themselves vicariously, by supporting fellow ignoramuses.

I am not in a position to argue that Caroline Kennedy is not smart, sophisticated and capable. But let’s face it, none of that shit matters. Her name is Kennedy. Acceptance at Harvard and Columbia Law were forgone conclusions. But if her family is so damned fired up about progressive politics and affirmative action, they might give the rest of us the gracious gesture of abdication. Monarchy is the antithesis of democracy. It’s the scourge of the merit-based.

Here’s the Kennedy Family crest. What’s your family crest?

Given the American electorate’s fascination with celebrity, and the pan-national fascination with monarchy, we can’t count on ourselves to stop ourselves from returning ourselves entirely to the dastardly principles from which our forebears fought and died to rid us — government by heredity. But then, we can’t be trusted with a full pint of ice cream.

It might require a selfless act of renunciation and quitclaim that government for the people, by the people and of the Kennedy’s shall perish from the earth.

Caroline, no.

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