Democracy Is Getting Dull: Presidents Should Act More Like Kings and Queens
Presidents should act more like Kings and Queens if our democracies are to avoid becoming mediocre, argues British Lord Robert Skidelsky, who is also Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University and a fellow of the British Academy in history and economics.
Skidelsky gives a favorable review to Irish President Michael Higgins, who is a former academic and accomplished poet, for a talk he gave this year at the University of Chicago, a school famous for it’s conservative economic bend. During the talk, Higgins challenged the students to reintegrate into their own thinking the ethical and philosophical basis that originated the study of economics. He referenced thinkers such as Adam Smith, Max Weber, Thorstein Veblen, and Jürgen Habermas to support his case.
Of course Higgins had a unique audience, but Skidelsky argues that so much demand has been placed on the elite to appear normal, thus imitating the people they represent, that their ideas and visions for society risk becoming equally humdrum.
As comedian Fran Lebowitz has observed of our own politics, there is nothing America hates more than an egghead. President Obama, for example, an accomplished constitutional scholar who is given to reading Urdu poetry, hosts beer summits and refers to citizens as “folks”. Have our homegrown predilections gone too far?
Especially today, Presidents are better suited than Kings and Queens to propose bold projects:
“An elected president has a stronger mandate to be controversial, especially in areas of thought and culture that lie beyond the domain of quotidian politics but shape the quality of the public space in which politics plays out.”
In the United States, as Hillary Clinton prepares her run for the presidency, will the United States become an amalgam of democratic aspirations and monarchic rule? John McCain weighs in during his Big Think interview:
Read more at Project Syndicate
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