Monarchy

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I’m watching the series Monarchy. It’s a historical and analytical look at the English monarchy.

I’ve worked my way through the first series, which covers the Anglo-Saxon years and the Norman conquest.

It’s a fascinating look into human nature, the nature of nations, and the nature of the people.

On the one hand, kings make a whole lot of sense. If we had someone we could absolutely trust to be our lawgiver, judge, and military commander, then we could have order and peace. As a society, we would be protected from all threats, foreign and domestic, and we could live our lives in freedom. This was the Anglo-Saxon ideal, and that ideal still burns in the hearts of the English people, the Americans being a branch from that tree.

On the other hand, because kings are men, the same type of men that their counselors, the nobles, and the people are made out of, they can be selfish, cruel, vindictive little people. Only a few kings in English history have had the opportunity to wield the powers of government almost absolutely. Most have had checks and balances placed on them, above their objections.

It seems to be English is to be a lover of liberty and naturally distrustful of authority. No sooner is one rebellion crushed, than another arises. More English blood has been spilled on English soil by English hands than any other place by any other people, it seems. What a fitting crucible to see various experiments of government. Man’s cruelty to man is what we ultimately fear, and government is supposed to be the means of controlling that beast. The lesson the English people have learned throughout their history that government can just as easily infringe on the rights they claim they exist to protect.

Our presidents today are much closer to the Anglo-Saxon kings than I’d like to admit. It’s very troubling, in fact, because I can see how a few bad apples can convert America into a monarchy. We are practically there today, what with the behavior of every administration since Coolidge. The grossest offenders, those who have expanded the authority of the presidency and the reach and scope of the federal government, have not had their ill-gotten and unconstitutional gains reversed by their successors. Indeed, our great hope for smaller government, Ronald Reagan, in cutting taxes actually greatly expanded the federal budget.

What is remarkable, however, is that we have today a movement based on restoring constitutional authority and limited the size and scope of the government—actually cutting it down to something it used to be, rather than merely limiting its growth. This is, of course, the Tea Party movement, which is gaining recognition both as a legitimate political force, and as a powerful one at that.

It seems at any point in English history, you had two competing sides: those who wanted to make the king greater, and those who wanted to diminish him. Although for periods of time it seems like the authority of the king had expanded, ultimately, the people always get what they want, and what they want is a man who sits on his throne in the throne room, leaving the people to their affairs, rather than a monster who enslaves the population with burdensome taxes and then sends them off to die in pointless foreign wars.

Those who wanted to make the king lesser never had effective leaders, except for rare occasions. Their voices were whispers and mumblings from the parliament and lesser nobles who had no hope of ever obtaining any high office. Their voice was the thoughts and actions of millions of lower and middle class Englishmen, whose hard work actually created the bread that fed the king’s armies.

Those who wanted to make the king greater were forever locked in partisan battles. Their supporters would face each other in open combat, graciously helping the people of England by exterminating their own partisan wealth and followers in slaughter. The War of Roses, for instance, did more to set back the power of the monarch than anything any rebel could’ve done, simply because you had two groups of people who disagreed on who should lead, not how.

We see this in today’s politics. As pointless partisans burn through their money trying to secure their offices of power, they are doing the nation a favor. What better way to waste the money of the partisan than in campaigning? I would to God that all those who seek office to expand their personal power be drained of all their wealth and influence.

The Tea Party is the game changer here. In command of vast fortunes, to be spent only on those who genuinely seek office to tear it down, rather than to build themselves up, the Tea Party has the power to erode the political power and authority of the federal and state governments. We see it today, as the House of Representatives overwhelmingly votes to not extend the debt ceiling. The message is clear: any debt ceiling increase will come with trillions in spending cuts.

We would do well to try and remember which side we are on. Do we believe in limited monarchy—a king who is mostly a figurehead, who can only wield power when it is used to defend the rights of the people? Or do we believe in an unlimited monarchy—a king who rules without consent and without limits, who uses his power to do as he pleases?

I think this question has already been answered, and answered again and again since the 400’s. The English people want, and will forever have, a limited government. Though great people may rise to great heights and attempt to change government to an unlimited one, this is temporary, as all dynasties are. The people, however, will always be there, and always whispering for less government.

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2 Responses to “Monarchy”

  1. Aakimo Loyuk Says:

    Fascinating tie, involving today’s political climate and the British-style of rule during the 5th century.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your analysis.

    I haven’t watched, at all, an episode of “Monarchy,” but having read “A History of An English Speaking People,” one version authored by Greene and the other more famously by Sir Winston Churchill, I have to say that the show seems accurate in it’s representation of the – shall we say? – “spit” and “fire” of the early Anglo-Saxon civilization.

    You stated that:

    “It seems at any point in English history, you had two competing sides: those who wanted to make the king greater, and those who wanted to diminish him…”

    and

    “What is remarkable, however, is that we have today a movement based on restoring constitutional authority… This is, of course, the Tea Party movement…”

    The following text tied to these two thoughts I agree to be true, but its the 2nd paragraph I cited above, that I believe, will have a much earlier and unfavorable conclusion then expected. I’ll elaborate, but first let me make sure I understand what you meant when comparing the Ancient British Monarchy to the Untied States as a potential Monarchy…

    If my observation(s) of your parallel of the early British Monarchy to the current political system are to be correct; the Tea Party is the “protagonist” in this up-hill climb to diminish the Presidential Powers (Kingly Powers) that be, while the “competitive forces” are represented by the status quo or “establishment Republicans” and Democrats seated in our magistrate.

    And now to the second thought concerning the Tea Party.

    The Tea Party is, I believe, a force to be reckon with as long as people are as emotional and (pro)active as they were in 2009 to now. But I’ve got that “sinking feeling” that this will not hold for the future. I look at it simply: We in America, love to follow trends. And I’m afraid that the Tea Party Movement will one day be know as just that – a trend. And why you ask? Because I think that the common voter doesn’t “do” enough research nor consider it worthy of their time to make the more “agreeable” choice for our nation long term.

    I feel as though we, as a collective society, are carried by our emotions and will eventually lose sight of what we claimed was important in the first place. We will replace our rational thought with whatever may feel right at the time. I cite the election of Obama – with voting citizens (some hailing from both political parties mind you) casting a vote for him in 2008 because they thought it “was time for a ‘Black’ President to hold office.”

    Balderdash. Now look were that’s gotten us.

    Now if the Tea Party does die and is only thought of as a played out trend, at least it’s a trend up and not down like Obama’s Presidency. But still, my premonition(s) about the future haunt me. I just think that the American attention span is too small to focus on what’s important – regardless of the outcome or consequences.

    I remember reading an old opinion piece written by famed satirist H.L. Mencken (also known as the Bograve of Baltimore) declaring that the “common man is a fool.”

    Sometimes, I think that it would be foolish of me not to suspect such things regardless of how sunny my optimism maybe to the contrary.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      I carry the same measure of skepticism. It’s so easy for someone to rise up as the “savior” of an anti-government movement, only to turn that into a pro-government movement. That’s how we got here in the first place. Wasn’t the democratic party all about helping the poor man by protecting him from the interests of the rich? And yet here we are, countless generations of Americans now enslaved to an ever-growing national debt.

      I think there are two things that will make the Tea Party carry the day, and I think these are important enough. One, there are no national leaders. The Tea Party movement is as diverse as America. It is individuals acting individually, leaders and councils of leaders acting in common consent, and so on. This is America at it’s finest. This is what every movement wishes they had—a million leaders working together for a common goal.

      The second is experience. Glenn Beck is doing a tremendous job teaching us, or rather, reminding us about human nature and our recent history. Those who are leading the Tea Party movement remember Reagan, and all that came after him. We know what works and what didn’t work. We especially know that plodding along, day-by-day, is more effective than emotional outbursts.

      The Tea Party movement today isn’t rallying or organizing massive demonstrations. That phase is over, and will likely never return. Go find your Tea Party leaders on election committees, serving as PCOs and district leaders, and organizing a small corner of the United States into an informed electorate. This is possible because we don’t need to meet together to work together anymore. Tea Party leaders have all the tools they need to effectively manage the entire campaign.

      I saw today a representative turn down a meeting with the president. Why? Because the president isn’t serious about cutting the deficit. I see house members acting like this across the house, because they know that they have political support back at home. Next year will bring in many more tea party candidates, and change even more elected official’s opinions about what is really important. The years following will see this movement grow and grow.

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