Thursday, May 05, 2005

Why I'm a royalist

As I sit here and watch the most important political event in the world today, the British elections, I reflect on how I have become a big supporter of having a royal family. The British electoral system is really confusing, but explained nicely here. I'd say it is the worst possible combination of American "winner takes all" system and European "proportional representation" method.

It is a strange conversion for an American to become a strong believer in a royal family. The brilliance of having a royal family is that the royal family's job is to represent the nation. They are simply figure heads, but important figures nonetheless.

Compare that to America, where the President is both the head of state and the main politician. This gives the President a conflicting job title. The President must be above the dirty mud-slinging of politics because it is unbecoming of the representative of the entire country to dirty his hands. Yet, he is expected to use his position as a bully pulpit for legislative change. To compound matters, when a President is a liar or an adulterer, Americans are enraged because it reflects on them all.

Compare that to Britain. Tony Blair is not very well liked or trusted by the public, but they have returned him and his government to power for a third term. People recognize that Blair is a good politician and has made their lives better. Because his job description is simply "be a good politician," Blair will stay. I'd bet Al Gore would give his left arm for that job description. The Royal Family doesn't get off easily, however. Their private lives are under a microscope at all times, their wardrobe is front page news, and their every comment is on the record.

Yet separating the two duties makes voting and running a country a lot easier. God Save the Queen!