My wife, Cheryl, when she was studying at Drake University took a class called Comparative Politics, and she was fascinated by the British political system. Their Parliament consists of two houses. The House of Commons made up of representatives who are voted in by their constituencies in their local district, not much unlike our House of Representatives (at least as local representation is concerned). The House of Lords is another matter. The House of Lords used to be consisted of members who were there by birthright, but now it is almost entirely appointed.
It would seem that our Senate is being treated this way by some. Charles Krauthammer in his article, “Camelot is Not a State,” notices a sense of entitlement in Caroline Kennedy’s request to fill Senator Hillary Clinton’s seat once she is confirmed as our next Secretary of State.
The problem with Caroline Kennedy’s presumption to Hillary Clinton’s soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat is not lack of qualification or experience. The Senate houses lots of inexperienced rookies — wealthy businessmen, sports stars, even the occasional actor.
The problem is Kennedy’s sense of entitlement. Given her rather modest achievements, she is trading entirely on pedigree.
I hate to be a good government scold, but wasn’t the American experiment a rather firm renunciation of government by pedigree?
Yes, the Founders were not democrats. They believed in aristocracy. But their idea was government by natural — not inherited — aristocracy, an aristocracy of “virtue and talents,” as Jefferson put it.
We also see this with the potential appointment of Beau Biden, as well as, Jesse Jackson, Jr. Krauthammer concludes:
Caroline Kennedy, Beau Biden and Jesse Jackson Jr. could some day become great senators. But in a country where advantages of education, upbringing and wealth already make the playing field extraordinarily uneven, we should resist encouraging the one form of advantage the American Republic strove to abolish: title.
No lords or ladies here. If Princess Caroline wants a seat in the Senate, let her do it by election. There’s one in 2010. To do it now by appointment on the basis of bloodline is an offense to the most minimal republicanism. Every state in the union is entitled to representation in the Senate. Camelot is not a state.
I agree with Krauthammer, unlike the House of Lords in the United Kingdom, however, the United State Senate is not a weaker house, and in many cases has more power than the House of Representatives (confirmation of Cabinet members & judges; decides on articles of impeachment, etc.).