By Phillip “Tex” Stewart
Growing up in the United States is characterized by immersion in patriotic droll.
This is particularly true for children in public schools. Students from kindergarten to their senior year stand up every morning and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, of which they have only the most dubious understanding, in a repetitive fashion that is totally not a form of brainwashing.
Some of the inviolable buzzwords we are conditioned to hold sacrosanct include liberty, democracy, and equality. We’re brought up to believe that our vote does make a difference (it doesn’t), that the government has our best interests at heart (they don’t), and that anybody can make something of themselves (especially if you’re a wealthy white male).
We’re told that we have the most free country in the world, and we’re told that our forefathers bravely and heroically fought against the forces of tyranny and oppression in the most just and necessary war for independence in history. But are we really so free? Is our bicameral Electoral College system really the best of all possible worlds? And, the main question I want to ask: is monarchy really so evil?
We here in the States tend to balk at any notion of increased central authority; this is one explanation for the resistance to a healthcare bill. Talk of monarchy is considered outlandish at best and seditious at worst. And yet, the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton was one of the most highly-watched events of the year in this country.
That particular family is highly regarded in Britain and in all the commonwealth countries – though the Queen has very little de facto political power, her position is still highly respected, and she remains a cultural icon of the British people. In fact, her approval rating right now is at over 80% in the United Kingdom; compare that to the U.S. Congress’s single-digit approval rating last month.
Other developed countries with active monarchs include Denmark, where the royal family is adored (the queen even endorses a national ketchup brand); Spain, where King Juan Carlos has actually been very active in bringing about egalitarian reforms following the turmoil of the early 20th century and the fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco; Sweden, which, along with Denmark, is one of the safest and most economically sound countries in the world; and also Japan, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Norway.
All of these countries are economically stable, culturally rich, and safe to live in. The rulers are liked, and perhaps most importantly, their government remains stable under their technical sovereignty.
To clarify, though, it is important to note that all of these monarchs are not absolute rulers. They are instead upholders of the constitutions of their respective countries, and they exist to protect the liberties and well-being of their subjects.
Saudi Arabia is exceptional in that it has a monarch, and still has a reputation for being oppressive; the difference is that the Saudi royalty is very theocratic, enforcing a fundamentalist version of Sharia law. In most of the rest of the world, such a situation would not be tolerated, nor is it a goal sought by any current monarch.
Rather, proper monarchs work to provide their subjects with the same kind of freedom we claim to have a monopoly on here in the States.
The government of the United States has proven itself to be quite ineffective at anything except dropping bombs (and they’re not even great at that; just ask the Sudanese).
The world’s largest democracy, India, also holds the distinction of having the poorest air quality in the world, along with the largest concentration of citizens living beneath the poverty line, according to the World Bank (46% of children under the age of three in India suffer from malnourishment).
The Parliamentary Republic of South Africa has the highest rate of assault and rape of a list compiled by the United Nations, as well as coming in second for murders with 50 per day.
These election-based governments also change themselves up frequently – every four to six years in our country. Stability is sacrificed simply for the franchise. I, for one, would gladly exchange my right to vote for a President to have instead a constitutional monarchy ruling my country.