Friday, April 29, 2016
Which presidential candidate will assume the divine right to rule America?
Why should I die for the Water Board, or at the command of an arbitrarily selected group of variously virtuous people, unless I believe that they are owed obedience, as representatives of something more divine?—from The political animal : biology, ethics, and politics, Stephen R. L. Clark, 1999, p. 147
by Larry Geller
We have not given up on the divine right of kings in this country. The ghost of George III still animates our model of national leadership, especially our strong need to deify our elected presidents.
While our military volunteers literally die in obedience to our own “Great Leader,” for the rest of us, it is safe to say that the political and public reaction to Obama, the first black man elected to the White House, has been strongly dependent on whether or not he is recognized as one to whom we “owe obedience,” that is, on whether or not a black man can assume a divine mantle and rule over white people. The prohibition of dark skin is deeply rooted in our religious mythology—was Jesus as light-skinned (and often light-haired) as He is most often depicted?
And so the part of the country that granted Obama near godliness elected him to his office, and then the part of the country that denies him any devine right refuses to cooperate. They feel that they owe no obedience because he could not possibly be closer to their God than they are.
So now come Trump and Clinton. Are either of them fit candidates to rule, which is to say, to don the mantle of the divine right of American presidents in January 2017?
Trump’s behavior so far is far from godly, but he has time to demonstrate some wisdom before election day. He’s a blank slate which he himself can fill in. While Trump is widely despised, he also has a following resembling a widespread religious cult. For sure, many of his followers expect him to not only build walls but to part the waters of government or to turn the thin gruel that the economy provides them with into wine. In fact, no other candidaate holds out those possibilities, though Sanders comes close in some respects (as a Messiah figure perhaps).
Clinton has a track record, and it is full of warmongering. Now, going to war is something kings have always done, but their popularity among the masses depends to a large extent on the outcomes as well as to a lesser extent on their methods. America’s wars have been disasters for so many in Asia and the near-East and so costly to American taxpayers that Clinton is already cut down a few notches on the godliness scale.
Trump is onto something with his emphasis on “winning.” No matter how cruel the dictator, or for that matter how many civilians an elected president or prime minister may dismiss as “collateral damage,” if they can win, we tend to overlook their inhumanity and cruelty.
What of Ted Cruz as a divinely-inspired ruler? I’m not the only one who has latched onto this thesis. John Boener gives him strong negative marks in this regard:
Former House Speaker John Boehner launched a verbal attack against Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, calling him "Lucifer in the flesh" and a "miserable son of a bitch." Boehner was speaking during a forum at Stanford University. The comments were recorded by journalists from the campus paper, The Stanford Daily. This clip begins with Stanford history professor David Kennedy.
John Boehner: "Lucifer in the flesh. In Washington, I have many Democrat friends, and I have Republican friends. I get along with almost everybody. But I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life."
[Democracy Now, Ex-House Speaker Boehner Calls Cruz "Lucifer in the Flesh", 4/29/2016]
A “Lucifer” can lead—one could cite the ascendence of the current leadership of North Korea, of Hitler, or of any of a number of dictators in the past or the present. But we, as Americans, don’t want a Lucifer as our president, hence John Boeher’s warning.
Before I end this rant, let me point out that nothing prevents our national leadership from concluding a “pact with the Devil” provided their divine rights have already been established. For such kings, almost anything is possible. So Bush Jr. can buddy up (or hold hands, even) with the cruel Saudis, yet Obama is condemned for concluding a pact with Iran. Obama’s godliness quotient was too low for him to do get away with that.
Forget Democracy. From the evidence available, George III is our true Founding Father. We are weighing, in this election cycle, which candidate is fit to rule in his line.