The dawn of election season is good and gone at this point, frontrunners from both parties are already boiling away their vast reserves of capital in their bid for presidency. Amongst contenders for the office is Hilary Clinton. Jeb Bush has indicated an interest in running in the 2016, and been on tour raising money for his super PAC “Right to Rise” for months, while claiming indecision on his bid for candidacy. What these two have in common is a long history in the political sphere, and well known familial affiliations within the government.
Dynasties are hardly new in the United States, the Rockefellers saw great success holding a monopoly in the early oil business of the 19th and 20th centuries. William Avery Rockefeller, the father of John and William Rockefeller who cofounded standard oil, was a snake oil salesman himself, claiming a cure to all cancers. Amongst his descendants is, Nelson Rockefeller, served as vice president to Gerald Rudolph Ford, who pardoned Nixon of his involvement with the Watergate Scandal.
Other well-known dynasties include the Kennedys, the Roosevelts, and of course the Clinton family as well as the Bushes. It’s a combination of savvy, luck and nepotism that catapults these families from simple success to national recognition.
Comfort breeds complacency, and a nation that is satisfied seeing power pass down along familial lines is either easily duped, overly forgiving, or a monarchy.
The dynastic principal is unpatriotic. Power shouldn’t be an heirloom, but it’s only natural that each generation is groomed by their predecessors to inherit power. It’s a matter of security, keeping to what is known. Just like the many family owned businesses throughout the country. If the child takes up the reigns then the parents can relax as they watch their own flesh and blood carrying on their work. In old age they’ll be cared for.
Passing presidency between family members isn’t the same as securing a reputation as the one and only “family run” burger joint on the block. The progenitors are not merely living comfortably in the loft above the shop as their children toil with their inheritance bellow. In the US political environment, aging members of powerful families keeps their thumbs on the scale, so to speak.
The next generation infrequently shirks away from the limelight, they’ve little reason to, as just their name carries weight and respect. Any Kennedy can get into Harvard, any Bush can get a beer by approaching someone in a Confederate cap. Those that rediscover their parents’ power, in no small part due to their recognizable name, carry on the ideas and plans of their predecessors.
George W Bush resumed his father’s war in the Middle East. His brother Jeb believes the existence of the Islamic State is due to the military pulling out of Iraq, which is the same backwards logic as believing that a child is conceived through the act of divorce.
In the case of Clinton, success in the election would mean an ex-president returning as first husband. The two essentially shared presidency while Bill was in office, with Hilary leading a doomed presidential task force for healthcare reform. They shared and continue to share power.
The Clintons are highly esteemed, and their relationship one of the oddest in government. They can scarcely be considered dynastic as they’re merely a couple. It’s important to remember however that every time the same name is voted back into office it gains legitimacy in the minds of the average voter. In announcing her candidacy Hilary said, “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.” There’s no denying she has worked long and hard for another shot at the presidency, but much of her momentum is due to how recognizable her name is.
Political families are nothing new, and more frequently than not their members are highly qualified. It’s not fair to universally declare that no child or family members of politicians should have a chance. However the unthinking support of those people by the public, due to the actions of their family, is shameful. One need only look to North Korea to witness the ultimate power of nepotism gone wild.
While the first of a lineage may have had their head on straight, the continual accrual of power by a family leads to diminishing returns in their descendants’ grasp on the everyman’s struggle. Families in power become more well-known and disconnected with each generation.