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.