The oligarchs continue on.

The long-tenured member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the State of Michigan, John Dingell Jr., has announced his retirement from the House after 29 consecutive terms in office. Mr. Dingell’s occupancy of the metropolitan House seat [from 1955 to the scheduled end of his term in 2015] is even more remarkable when one considers that his father, John Dingell, Sr. held the same seat from 1933 to his death in 1955, when his son took over the office.

Now that John Dingell, Jr. has announced his retirement at the age of 87, his spouse – Deborah Dingell, has now announced her intention to succeed her husband in the same office.

Many national political ‘dynasties’ have been elected to office in the history of the United States; John and John Quincy Adams, the Bush family, the Kennedy family, and perhaps soon the Clinton family, but why? Early in the National history, people served for the altruism of service and were then expected to return to private life. Now, it is becoming rather obvious that we now have political ‘elites’ who are now an oligarchical class. For 82 years, father and son have presided over metropolitan Detroit and now another Dingell, with a sense of entitlement to public office, wants to continue on as part of the ruing class.

I find it telling that no where in the aforementioned web links are any mention of her qualifications or lack thereof. There is no vision statement, no statement of purpose, no claimed benefit to her running for office, no claim of fitness for the office. There is simply a continuation of a hereditary/familial political line that resembles the once hereditary House of Lords in the British Parliament and a ceremonial election to maintain the appearance of propriety with the political underclasses.

As a nation, we once were revolted at the system of political spoils and the idea of hereditary offices. Now, we claim adherence to and insist on both in our rulers as an ersatz and illegitimate form of political meritocratic experience.

Montesquieu warned us of the tyranny of terror by sovereigns and the lack of political virtue. We are installing a ruling class which will deprive us of every freedom and abandoning our political birthright in the name of apathy and ignorance.

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4 Responses to The oligarchs continue on.

  1. lgallar1 says:

    Interesting topic, not a lot of people talk about this because many seen it as normal. Many people are okay with electing the family because they think they might continue the legacy, finish off the legacy or like the values and ideas from that first person and they think it will be passed down. I never thought of the idea of the creation of a new class of “political elites” , this sounds very interesting and I can see it happening but then no. I do not think its a problem because possibly the children or at times the members in the family are not interested in politics and these political elites are not seen as such but part of just the upper class not a new class all together. The reason why is because a lot of politicians like Mitt Romney have business or other things they are involved in not just in their politics. We still get new politicians because of the different and new generations or ideas. Then the people may not vote for the: wife, the brother, sister or son and daughter who are in the same family because they are not a favorite or because of other reasons. Its the people voting these “elites” in, they decide who they want their representatives to be a person or the whole family.

  2. zoneofsubduction says:

    While the people have the Right to elect whomever they want, is the election of a legacy to a politician a proper use of one’s vote? The people are electing representatives to carry out their political will in a deliberative legislative body, not electing members to a fraternity, sorority or a club.

    Enough familial members of the political elites have been elected, based primarily on their name recognition and status, that shows that my assertion in not a statistical aberration. George H.W. Bush had an exemplary background and career which should have made him a favorite of fans of the meritocracy – Yale economics graduate, Navy combat veteran, private sector employment in the petroleum industry, service as a member of the House of Representatives, head of the Republican National Committee, Director of CIA, Department of State ambassador to the United Nations and envoy to Communist China, Vice-President of the United States – under Reagan, and ultimately President. According to anyone’s reasonable measure, he should have been an exceptional individual – he was not an effective President domestically and was highly questionable in the foreign policy arena – known primarily for starting another undeclared war. His son followed in his footsteps and fared no better, albeit with far fewer credentials and abilities than his father and starting another undeclared war in Iraq. Now, sectors of the RNC want to drag out Jeb Bush to be another President. He was even fewer credentials than his older brother.

    The Kennedy family is another example. When Joe Kennedy’s son and favored Presidential candidate was killed in WW2, he pushed John to run. After he achieved the office and was assassinated, the family pushed Robert to climb the political ladder and after proving himself as U.S. Attorney General to his brother, he ran for the DNC nod and he too was gunned down. The third brother, Edward, had limited skills and scandals [his expulsion from Harvard College for academic dishonesty, being the driver of a car that killed Mary Jo Kopechne, his frequent episodes of intoxication, his subsequent enlistment in the US Army and his inability to get promoted beyond Private First Class while stationed in Paris, France, etc.], and spent 47 years in the Senate. He ran for Democrat nominee to be President in 1980, but lost out to Jimmy Carter. Other Kennedy family members have considered or run for office, but again, the concept of a successful ‘bloodline’ has been proven wrong in politics.

    When voters base their votes primarily on a political legacy, physical resemblance[s] to the voter, gender identification, ‘celebrity’ status, single issue status, or other less than substantive reason[s]; the voters are engaging in self-subversion of their franchise and ultimately their Rights. The choice of a representative politician requires intellectual sobriety and discipline, because what is done and what is not done will affect the locale, the State, and the Nation-State into the future.

    Ultimately, the people must be intelligent and moral in voting and selecting those who would lead the Nation-State for democracy to work as intended. Tragically, we are getting the exact politicians that our collective conscious and intellect are worthy of.

    • bmfdub says:

      Is it not telling that, especially in the case of the Kennedy family, that national political ‘dynasties’ did not fully materialize? Once a Kennedy rose to national executive influence, they were assassinated either politically or literally.

      Legislative dynasties, I believe, are inherently more acceptable to people because of their regional nature. It is not historically unusual for a family to have significant communal influence in an area. This is the quality that I believe a proper representative must possess, adequate representation of the interests of the group.

      When these regionally influential families rise in America, it was because they are community leaders, rather than because they were arbitrarily chosen (as was the system prior in most cases). The fact that people still vote for them on a majoritarian basis signifies their satisfaction with how they are continue to be represented.

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