Approved by a 14-3 vote of the Scroll editorial board
Americans want a king.
They’re not looking for the kind of royalty that you’ll find at Buckingham Palace, whose sole duties include opening any large ceremony with their blessing and occasionally knighting the next great musician or actor.
No; Americans on both party lines are looking for a monarch who will wipe away their tears, fix their problems and display superhero-like abilities to save the world and beat the bad guys.
The irony is that we do have a king: The president of the United States.
Love them or hate them, we treat our presidents as if they were the answer to all of our problems. We deify those presidents who we believe did a good job and demonize and ridicule those who, in our eyes, failed.
Need evidence? Look no farther than your wallet, Washington, D.C. or, in an extreme case, Mount Rushmore. We build monuments to our elected representatives and print their faces into our money when they do a “good job.”
For those who didn’t live up to our expectations, well, the shanty towns that sprang up in the ‘30s were called “Hoovervilles” for a reason.
What’s truly upsetting, however, is that many of the Founding Fathers and presidents of the past were modest men who didn’t want the glorification that the public heaped on them. The first example of this was our very first president, George Washington.
According to Smithsonian Magazine “Arriving in Philadelphia, [Washington] was met by local dignitaries and asked to mount a white horse for his entry
into town. When he crossed a bridge over the Schuylkill, it was wreathed with laurels and evergreens, and a cherubic boy, aided by a mechanical device, lowered a laurel crown over his head. Recurrent cries of ‘Long Live George Washington’ confirmed what his former aide James McHenry had already told him before he left Mount Vernon: ‘You are now a king under a different name.’”
Now we not only treat our leaders this way, but we also expect them to act the part and take control.
Nevertheless, our monarchs don’t operate like traditional ones. Ours do not inherit their position by birth (although a case could be made for the Bush family), nor do they remain in power for life. Also, a system of checks and balances limits their power.
However, throughout the years we’ve seen presidents supersede their executive authority on more than one occasion. President Jackson blatantly ignored the Supreme Court and continued his torment of the Native Americans. For a more modern example, consider this: Congress hasn’t actually issued a formal declaration of war since 1942.
Some critics and citizens complain about the amount of power the presidents wield recklessly, but in reality, presidents don’t have the power we think and want them to have. We rush to give them credit when the economy improves but attack them time and again during an economic downturn when, in reality, no one person or administration has the power to destroy or build an economy.
In the case of the current presidential election, both Democrats and Republicans see their representatives as the saviors of the country in terms of the economy, foreign affairs, immigration, health care and just about any other topic that concerns the general public.
Never mind the fact that one side supposedly supports bigger government and the other less; either scenario involves both sides relying on one person to fix the problems.
We can’t expect them to act as mere representatives of the people when we treat them like royalty of the 16th century.
The country and government was designed in such a way that we, the people, take personal responsibility when the U.S. starts to fail, and not heap it all onto the head of one man or woman.
If we achieve this goal of personal responsibility, then we will become a true democracy.
Until the day comes that we actually achieve that goal, all hail the king!
Americans not looking for more government
The dissenting editors explain their reasoning
Though a percentage of our nation has become dependent on handouts and bailouts, the cogs of this great nation are turned by the middle class — the people who put on their blue and white collars each and every day, hitting the grind every day to pay the bills and bring home the bacon.
In an Idaho legislative teleconference broadcasted earlier this year, one of the main issues brought up by Rexburg residents was the role of government in the lives of citizens. The general consensus? They wanted less government.
The American people are looking for something greater than a mold of the monarchies of the 16th century.
There is nothing wrong with wanting a leader to follow, trust, or even praise. Historically, the nation has honored the lives of many people, not in supplication for them to warlord over us, dictating our every move, but as a matter of respect. Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea come to mind.
The lives of men and women have inspired Americans throughout the years, landing them a coin adorned with their face, or a monument erected in their name. But we are not looking for them to rule and reign over each of us.
The American dream, one of rags-to-riches, lives in the hearts of every American.
But the happily every after of every Seatllite, Chicagan and New Yorker is not gained by an almighty leader
holding their hands and giving out free vouchers.
The success of this country comes from its citizens across these fifty nifty United States. Not from the White House.