Dynastic Politics

Everyone, it seems, is talking about dynasties these days:  Caroline Kennedy wants Hillary Clinton’s (Hillary Clinton — she of only getting to be a Senator because of her last name!) Senate Seat; Jesse Jackson, Jr. was looking for a way to snag Obama’s newly vacated seat; Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Miner appointed a seat warmer so that Beau Biden can run for his dad’s Senate spot in 2010; with Senator Ken Salazar moving to Dept of the Interior, speculation has begun that his brother, Congressman John Salazar may be appointed to fill the vacancy; the daughter of the Speaker of the Illinois State House is also in the running for Obama’s old Senate seat…

Reading that list, and listening to the feigned outrage among the (mostly) Republican critics, you would think that Democrats are just one dynastic bunch, throwing riches and power to any would-be political relative within throwing distance.

Nevermind that Hillary Clinton won her Senate seat, served the state of New York for eight years and now is taking an appointment she’s qualified for, or that Jesse Jackson, Jr. won his seat in the House more than once, or that Lisa Madigan, that daughter of the Illinois Speaker, is the Attorney General of Illinois, or that John Salazar, like Jackson, is an elected Congressman.

Because if people don’t care to make a distinction between dynasties and political genetics (for lack of a better term), then we could find many more examples of such abuse all over the country.  But that would be silly.  Would you claim that because the newly elected Congresswoman from Maine’s First District happens to also be the mother of the Majority Leader Speaker of the House in Maine’s House of Representatives that there is some kind of funky, dynastic politics at work?  Of course you wouldn’t.  Likewise, would you say that because the Udall brothers are heirs to a long line of political Udalls and Smiths they are unqualified to be Senator? Of course not!

Instead you would think how a lot of politics is hereditary — people inherit a love for the political game, for policy, what have you.  It is not at all uncommon.

The Caroline Kennedy business — appointing someone to a job she has few qualifications to hold largely because she has a famous name — is a world apart from the other “dynasties” being bandied about by the news media and some conservative opinion-makers. One is near-inheritance, so many of the others are about winning elections and sharing a cause.

Not to mention that if there were really to be a dynasty war, the Republican Party would surely beat the Democrats to a pulp…or have you forgotten who W’s dad is?


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