Monday, October 03, 2005

Not Hillary, Not for President

(With apologies to Jami.)

Not because she's a Democrat, not because she's a woman, not because she is or isn't a lesbian, not because she's moved too far to the right or she's still too far to the left, not because she did or didn't have something to do with Vince Foster's death, not because she dissed Tammy Wynette and cookie baking moms, not because she's a Cubs fan, not because she pretends to be a Yankees fan, not because of that hairdo—in short, not for any of the usual reasons that the partisans dredge up.

I'm against Hillary Clinton becoming president for what I would consider a practical reason: I'm against political dynasties. Wherever you find a political dynasty—even in democracies (especially in democracies!)—you're sure to catch a whiff of corruption and decay on the breeze.

Look at the Duvalier family in Haiti, the Gandhi-Nehru nexus in India, the Bhuttos in Pakistan, the Sukarnos in Indonesia, the Kennedys. Each case proves that immutable fact of dynastic political families: the law of diminishing returns. Nowhere is this law more evident than in the United States right now with the Bush clan. Say what you will about Bush the elder, but he's genius and a brilliant statesman compared to his son.

Even if we were to trade up the current dynastic scale in 2008, a Jeb Bush presidency would do even more to damage America's image—at home and abroad—than George W. has. Even the Republicans seem to realize that there would be something unseemly about having Jeb run for president.

Hillary Clinton was essentially gifted her Senate seat—the first political office she's ever held—because of her role as First Lady. If she becomes president, it will appear to many that she got where she is because of her connections and her last name. That's not the message we want to send to the American public, and it's most certainly not a message we want to send across the pond to friends and allies who may already be questioning just how democratic our political system is. We fought two wars against the British to free ourselves from the tyranny of hereditary rule. Do we really want to return to it by choice?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'd like to see a female president as much as the next guy. But is our democracy really so weak that she's the only one? American political history is already lousy with political dynasties. Let's not make it one more.
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