Tag: monarchy

The Tale of Two Tragedies: Elizabeth II’s Passing and Charles’ Ascension


You can’t fully prepare for someone’s passing, even though you know it’s coming. Look at Great Britain today. Queen Elizabeth II — God rest her soul — was 96 years old. The country mourns, and most of the world pays tribute.

I’ll add my two cents. While I am no fan of monarchies, constitutional or otherwise, there’s something to be said about such an exemplar of grace, humility, service, civility, and duty. Queen Elizabeth swore in her 15th prime minister some 48 hours before she died. She was the ultimate institutionalist, in a good way — preserving and protecting the continuity of the British throne for 70 years and 214 days, British tradition, and her extraordinary marriage to the late Prince Phillip. Her children? Well, not so much, but no one is perfect. At least Prince Edward, her youngest, and his bride, Sophie, are wonderful examples of happy and successful royals in their own right.

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Growing up in Nakhon Phanom, a provincial capital in Northeast Thailand, the four of us siblings liked to go out with family and join the activities of whatever special day was being observed. We loved parades with rows and rows of women performing classical dance in beautiful costumes. We were fascinated by a fair with anomalies […]

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Totalitarian Democracies and Cloistered Kings


shutterstock_141024430When President George W. Bush and many others were trumpeting the need for democracy throughout the world, some conservatives were keen to remind us that “democratic” is only an adjective in the USA’s formal identity as a democratic republic. The noun — the republic — is primary. Still, it has become normal to cite democracy as the fundamental principle on which any free society is built.

Yet, as has become increasingly evident in Western governments, democracy and the totalitarian impulse are not mutually exclusive. Expansion and centralization of power seem to be the natural inclination of any government, regardless of how that power is derived. The emergence of the nanny state in America did not slow with the Amendment affording citizens the direct election of Senators or with improved communication between voters and representatives.  

As conservatives, we don’t seek Utopian perfection in government. We acknowledge that no system can completely overcome the complexity, the errors, and the temptations of human interaction. So my question is not: “What alternative to democracy can keep government limited and local?” Rather, it is this humbler but equally difficult question: “Do democratic systems offer the best possible restraints on centralization and expansion of power?”