Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ‘No Princes; No Kings’: A Proposed Constitutional Amendment

 

Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution states:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

To put it bluntly, the intent of the Founders was to ensure that America would be a nation that would not suffer under the machinations of either Kings or the Princes they might beget. It’s a reflection of the condition J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur found in Americans when writing his “Letters from an American Farmer” in which he extolled the virtues of the fledgling nation’s people and how it changed those who came to it, saying:

This great metamorphosis … extinguishes all his European prejudices; he forgets that mechanism of subordination, that servility of disposition which poverty had taught him.

America is a radically constructed nation in a variety of ways, but perhaps most notably for its extreme social egalitarianism made manifest in the Constitution. No person would be viewed as inherently lower in the eyes of the law than any other merely by dint of birth or assignation of arbitrary title. Slavery, that glaring exception to this principle required a bloody war to excise, but the excision was nonetheless performed. As I said: the concept of America is radical and that makes us exceptional in a variety of ways.

Even given that commitment to the idea of social equality, it’s been a long time since 1865, let alone 1782. Elites don’t necessarily share those commitments to principle and have found ways of circumventing even the best-laid plans, managing to ensconce themselves at the highest levels of power intergenerationally.

Political dynasties are nothing new in America. Founding Father John Adams’s son John Quincy Adams followed him into the office of the Presidency in 1825 and more recently, George W. Bush took up that mantle once worn by his father. But even these high-profile aberrations of the established order seem mild in comparison to the rampant self-dealing that we see on a daily basis in some corners of the nation.

For instance, Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan’s 12th Congressional District was elected to her seat in 2014… a seat she practically inherited from her husband, Rep. John Dingell, who held it for a staggering 60 years. But that’s not all: John Dingell, Jr. succeeded his father, John Dingell, Sr., who held that seat for 22 years. All told, the Dingell family has “represented” MI 12 for 86 consecutive years.

This isn’t democracy. It’s an emergent aristocracy.

The problem is endemic wherever we look. The last 20 years of American politics have been driven by the continual re-emergence of such names from the past and hangers-on to political power. Jonah Goldberg argues (for instance) that the most influential player in our nation’s politics in that period has been none other than Hillary Clinton… whose sole qualification for causing such ructions was “having been married to a President.” It’s hard to argue he’s wrong.

Every day on the news we are treated to the sight of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Governor Scold; Son of Gov. Mario Cuomo) hectoring the people of New York like some petty king. Enough, I say.

Why did we, as a nation willingly grant these relative non-entities the ability to continually “come back from the dead” (politically) in the first place? Apparently, we as a nation lack imagination. To that extent, we need to be protected from ourselves, a thing which the Constitution was designed to do in the first place. Therefore, we should amend the Constitution thusly:

No person who is the immediate family member (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Son, Daughter or Spouse) of a Federal or Statewide elected official shall be eligible to be elected that office.

It is the nature of the financially powerful to become politically powerful as well. But it is also patently Un-American to assume that elected offices at the summit of the nation’s power structure ought to be the plaything of a handful of our own self-appointed princelings. One bite at the presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial or representative apple per three generations ought to be good enough for any family.

At the very minimum, it will introduce some new blood into our boring, tense and repetitive political discussions.

Published in Law, Politics
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  1. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White MaleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’ve proposed something similar several times. My version goes farther than yours:

    No person who is the immediate family member (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Son, Daughter or Spouse) of a Federal or Statewide elected official shall be eligible to be hold any elected Federal or Statewide office.

    1: They shouldn’t be *appointed* either , like when a spouse fills the term of someone who dies in office.

    2: Not just “that” office, any office.

     

     

    • #1
    • April 2, 2020, at 10:17 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  2. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSulJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    I’ve proposed something similar several times. My version goes farther than yours:

    No person who is the immediate family member (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Son, Daughter or Spouse) of a Federal or Statewide elected official shall be eligible to be hold any elected Federal or Statewide office.

    1: They shouldn’t be *appointed* either , like when a spouse fills the term of someone who dies in office.

    2: Not just “that” office, any office.

     

     

    I would expand that to include 1st cousins, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, and neighbors too.

    • #2
    • April 2, 2020, at 10:43 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    I’ve proposed something similar several times. My version goes farther than yours:

    No person who is the immediate family member (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Son, Daughter or Spouse) of a Federal or Statewide elected official shall be eligible to be hold any elected Federal or Statewide office.

    1: They shouldn’t be *appointed* either , like when a spouse fills the term of someone who dies in office.

    2: Not just “that” office, any office.

    I’m in. Where do we start?

    • #3
    • April 2, 2020, at 10:50 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. Hoyacon Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    I’ve proposed something similar several times. My version goes farther than yours:

    No person who is the immediate family member (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Son, Daughter or Spouse) of a Federal or Statewide elected official shall be eligible to be hold any elected Federal or Statewide office.

    1: They shouldn’t be *appointed* either , like when a spouse fills the term of someone who dies in office.

    2: Not just “that” office, any office.

    I would expand that to include 1st cousins, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, and neighbors too.

    And anyone they’ve ever met in their lives.

    • #4
    • April 2, 2020, at 10:58 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Contesta…: At the very minimum, it will introduce some new blood into our boring, tense and repetitive political discussions.

    I’m not sure it’d work, but I would also add “anyone who loses an election while an incumbent is not eligible to run for the same office again”.

    • #5
    • April 2, 2020, at 11:03 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. TBA Coolidge

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Contesta…:

    Every day on the news we are treated to the sight of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Governor Scold; Son of Gov. Mario Cuomo) hectoring the people of New York like some petty king. Enough, I say.

    Indeed, Mario’s firstborn inherited the Governor title and married into a political alliance with Clan Kennedy, while the second born was given a press sinecure. 

    Tidy. 

    Therefore, we should amend the Constitution thusly:

    No person who is the immediate family member (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Son, Daughter or Spouse) of a Federal or Statewide elected official shall be eligible to be elected that office.

    I can’t quite go with you here as the sins of the father should not be visited on the sons or daughters – even in service of preventing the sins from all of the above from being visited on the rest of us. 

    But it appeals to me nevertheless. 

    • #6
    • April 2, 2020, at 11:12 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! Contributor

    I have no trouble splicing “or appointed” onto “elected.”

    The immediate family seems logical, as that is the natural boundary of nepotism as spelled out in several state’s contract laws. You can’t bid on State work if your family member works in that agency.

    This seems to maintain a sort of hygeine.

    • #7
    • April 2, 2020, at 11:26 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White MaleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    TBA (View Comment):

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Contesta…:

    Every day on the news we are treated to the sight of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Governor Scold; Son of Gov. Mario Cuomo) hectoring the people of New York like some petty king. Enough, I say.

    Indeed, Mario’s firstborn inherited the Governor title and married into a political alliance with Clan Kennedy, while the second born was given a press sinecure.

    Tidy.

    Therefore, we should amend the Constitution thusly:

    No person who is the immediate family member (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Son, Daughter or Spouse) of a Federal or Statewide elected official shall be eligible to be elected that office.

    I can’t quite go with you here as the sins of the father should not be visited on the sons or daughters – even in service of preventing the sins from all of the above from being visited on the rest of us.

    But it appeals to me nevertheless.

    Politics shouldn’t be “The Family Business”.

     

    • #8
    • April 2, 2020, at 12:17 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! Contributor

    TBA (View Comment):
    Indeed, Mario’s firstborn inherited the Governor title and married into a political alliance with Clan Kennedy, while the second born was given a press sinecure. 

    Would that make the press the new priesthood in this paradigm? The home of all high-born second sons.

    • #9
    • April 2, 2020, at 12:19 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    I dissent, courteously.

    Before considering such a proposal, I’d like to see a more empirical analysis of the extent to which elected officials are related to each other, as opposed to rare anecdotes.

    Even if willing to entertain the proposal, it would need to be clarified. Do you mean to ban immediate succession only, or are you proposing a permanent ban? My impression is that you mean only an immediate ban — but this would not have prevented Bush ’43, or the current Cuomo in NY, or Hillary (hypothetically) from election.

    • #10
    • April 2, 2020, at 12:35 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSulJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Contesta… (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):
    Indeed, Mario’s firstborn inherited the Governor title and married into a political alliance with Clan Kennedy, while the second born was given a press sinecure.

    Would that make the press the new priesthood in this paradigm? The home of all high-born second sons.

    Depends on whether we bring back primogeniture or require the division of estates. In many cultures practicing the former, the 2nd sons were often made eunuchs too.

    • #11
    • April 2, 2020, at 12:36 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! Contributor

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    Depends on whether we bring back primogeniture or require the division of estates. In many cultures practicing the former, the 2nd sons were often made eunuchs too.

    Too late for Chris Cuomo.

    • #12
    • April 2, 2020, at 12:45 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! Contributor

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I dissent, courteously.

    Before considering such a proposal, I’d like to see a more empirical analysis of the extent to which elected officials are related to each other, as opposed to rare anecdotes.

    Even if willing to entertain the proposal, it would need to be clarified. Do you mean to ban immediate succession only, or are you proposing a permanent ban? My impression is that you mean only an immediate ban — but this would not have prevented Bush ’43, or the current Cuomo in NY, or Hillary (hypothetically) from election.

    Seemed pretty clear to me.

    If you are a first order relative of an official elected to a Federal or Statewide office you are ineligible to be elected to it. This creates blanket ineligibility for persons directly related to those officials. Not sure how much clearer “you’re ineligible” can get.

    It’s just unseemly in a nation of 330 million people to contemplate that we can’t find other people to occupy these offices than the relatives of current and former occupants.

    • #13
    • April 2, 2020, at 12:49 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. aardo vozz Member

    danok1 (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    I’ve proposed something similar several times. My version goes farther than yours:

    No person who is the immediate family member (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Son, Daughter or Spouse) of a Federal or Statewide elected official shall be eligible to be hold any elected Federal or Statewide office.

    1: They shouldn’t be *appointed* either , like when a spouse fills the term of someone who dies in office.

    2: Not just “that” office, any office.

    I’m in. Where do we start?

    We could go even further: if two elected or two appointed officials ( or one elected and one appointed official) were to marry, one of them MUST resign.

    • #14
    • April 2, 2020, at 1:04 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Stad Thatcher

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Contesta…: All told, the Dingell family has “represented” MI 12 for 86 consecutive years.

    Unsat. I wonder what the family’s net worth is . . .

    • #15
    • April 2, 2020, at 1:42 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! Contributor

    Stad (View Comment):

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Contesta…: All told, the Dingell family has “represented” MI 12 for 86 consecutive years.

    Unsat. I wonder what the family’s net worth is . . .

    The means by which many political dynasties enrich themselves (those who didn’t transfer from the productive economy) is to give their relatives cushy gigs in their campaigns as consultants and the like.

    Maxine Waters’s daughter has benefited richly from such largesse. I’m sure that the Sanders clan is in on this grift to great effect as well, which goes a long way towards explaining why Bernie isn’t that eager to give up the ghost… there’s big money in pimping socialism! 

    • #16
    • April 2, 2020, at 2:02 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. tigerlily Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    I’ve proposed something similar several times. My version goes farther than yours:

    No person who is the immediate family member (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Son, Daughter or Spouse) of a Federal or Statewide elected official shall be eligible to be hold any elected Federal or Statewide office.

    1: They shouldn’t be *appointed* either , like when a spouse fills the term of someone who dies in office.

    2: Not just “that” office, any office.

     

     

    I would expand that to include 1st cousins, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, and neighbors too.

    Good. We’d have no FDR.

    • #17
    • April 2, 2020, at 5:58 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  18. TBA Coolidge

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Contesta… (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):
    Indeed, Mario’s firstborn inherited the Governor title and married into a political alliance with Clan Kennedy, while the second born was given a press sinecure.

    Would that make the press the new priesthood in this paradigm? The home of all high-born second sons.

    And the military is for none of their sons. 

    • #18
    • April 2, 2020, at 6:33 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. TBA Coolidge

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Contesta…:

    Every day on the news we are treated to the sight of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Governor Scold; Son of Gov. Mario Cuomo) hectoring the people of New York like some petty king. Enough, I say.

    Indeed, Mario’s firstborn inherited the Governor title and married into a political alliance with Clan Kennedy, while the second born was given a press sinecure.

    Tidy.

    Therefore, we should amend the Constitution thusly:

    No person who is the immediate family member (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Son, Daughter or Spouse) of a Federal or Statewide elected official shall be eligible to be elected that office.

    I can’t quite go with you here as the sins of the father should not be visited on the sons or daughters – even in service of preventing the sins from all of the above from being visited on the rest of us.

    But it appeals to me nevertheless.

    Politics shouldn’t be “The Family Business”.

    I agree, but it’s been awhile since we elected yeomen farmers. 

    • #19
    • April 2, 2020, at 6:34 PM PDT
    • Like
  20. TBA Coolidge

    aardo vozz (View Comment):

    danok1 (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    I’ve proposed something similar several times. My version goes farther than yours:

    No person who is the immediate family member (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Son, Daughter or Spouse) of a Federal or Statewide elected official shall be eligible to be hold any elected Federal or Statewide office.

    1: They shouldn’t be *appointed* either , like when a spouse fills the term of someone who dies in office.

    2: Not just “that” office, any office.

    I’m in. Where do we start?

    We could go even further: if two elected or two appointed officials ( or one elected and one appointed official) were to marry, one of them MUST resign.

    And no conflicts of interest with the press either. 

    • #20
    • April 2, 2020, at 6:37 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. The Cloaked Gaijin Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    I’ve proposed something similar several times. My version goes farther than yours:

    No person who is the immediate family member (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Son, Daughter or Spouse) of a Federal or Statewide elected official shall be eligible to be hold any elected Federal or Statewide office.

    1: They shouldn’t be *appointed* either , like when a spouse fills the term of someone who dies in office.

    2: Not just “that” office, any office.

    What would Brett Kavanaugh do without Lisa Murkowski?

     

     

     

    • #21
    • April 2, 2020, at 7:30 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  22. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive

    Meh. We get the government we deserve because we vote for it. We hold the actual power, but we exercise is very, very poorly. Want a better government? Get a better people. 

    • #22
    • April 21, 2020, at 5:25 PM PDT
    • 1 like