Tuesday, November 15, 2005

American Royalty

It is not unusual to hear people say that the United States is a different kind of country because we do not have a “ruling caste.” We are a democracy, not subject to the dynastic rule of families that play dominant roles in politics year after year.

My casual investigation shows that these people are sadly mistaken.

First, the democrats.

The Daley family has made the fine city of Chicago its fiefdom—Richard J. Daley ruled the Windy City as mayor for 21 years, from 1955-1976. His youngest son, William M. Daley, served in President Clinton’s cabinet as Secretary of Commerce from 1997 to 2000, and then became Al Gore’s campaign chairman.

Another son, Richard M. Daley, followed in his father’s footsteps and became mayor of Chicago in 1989. Yes, that’s 16 more years of Daley rule—this from a party that decries privilege and nepotism.

But the Kennedys have more than kept pace with the Daleys.

JFK was president, of course, and RFK would have been, were it not for an assassin’s bullet. There has been a Kennedy in the U.S. Senate since 1952; perhaps the least compelling member of the dynasty, Teddy, has been there nearly 50 years. And we have not heard the last from the next generation, which is already represented in the House of Representatives.

On the republican side, there is no single family quite like the Kennedys … but an interesting factoid shows the endurance of elephant families as well.

Take a look at the republican tickets in the presidential contests since 1950. Three family names stand out from the rest, do they not?

1952 Eisenhower/NIXON
1956 Eisenhower/NIXON
1960 NIXON/Lodge
1964 Goldwater/Miller
1968 NIXON/Agnew
1972 NIXON/Agnew
1976 Ford/DOLE
1980 Reagan/BUSH
1984 Reagan/BUSH
1988 BUSH/Quayle
1992 BUSH/Quayle
1996 DOLE/Kemp
2000 BUSH/Cheney
2004 BUSH/Cheney

See what I mean? With the sole exception of the election of 1964, EVERY campaign in the past half century has had a Nixon, Bush, or Dole on the republican side.

With this in mind, is anyone willing to rule Elizabeth Dole out of the running for a spot on the republican ticket in 2008?


At November 15, 2005 10:17 PM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

The U.S. definitely has it's own powerful aristocratic families. Old money is alive and well in America.

I'd like to see an Elizabeth Dole - Hillary Clinton race. I think it'd be pretty fun.

At November 15, 2005 11:47 PM, Blogger Jenn replied to my musings ...

Politics make me break out in hives, so I'm stopping by to say hi!

But, I think it'd be fun to have Dole running too.

At November 16, 2005 10:26 PM, Blogger Dear Jane replied to my musings ...

phoenix, I hope you mean the iron man triatholon race...that sure would be fun to see.

At November 16, 2005 11:35 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...


The race I keep hoping for is Pat Robertson versus Jesse Jackson. That way, about 35% of Americans will flee to Canada and the rest of us can pick up some fan-freakin-tastic real estate bargains.

But only if Robertson keeps the streak going by selecting George P. Bush (Jeb's son) or the heretofore little-known Mohandas Ezekiel Nixon as his running mate.

-- david

At November 17, 2005 1:33 PM, Blogger The Pagan Temple replied to my musings ...

Politics is like any other business, fmailies that make it big in poitics have al the advantages in seeign that their children are educated and raised to continue the "family business". Yeah, there's all kinds of political dynasties. Kennedy's, Bush, Tafts (Ohio), Gores-

Unfortunatley, byt he time two or three generations goes down, they become more and more disconnected from the American public they are actually suppossed to be representing.

At November 17, 2005 6:39 PM, Blogger The 502 replied to my musings ...

Interesting post. This is nothing new. FDR was related in one way or another to these former presidents: Washington, Adams, Madison, Van Buren, Harrison, Taylor, Grant, Taft, and of course Teddy Roosevelt.

It would be nice to see a new family come into the picture.

At November 18, 2005 4:06 PM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

Did you know that Bush and Kerry are both distant relatives to Queen Elizabeth I? In fact Kerry's family tree can be traced straight back to King James I(King James Bible.

Bush can trace his bloodlines back to King Charles II, Henry III, and Mary Tudor.

At December 13, 2005 11:13 AM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

We've had several ruling "dynasties" in the US. In the revolutionary era we had John Adams, Sam Adams, and John Quincy Adams-- quite a dynasty there if you ask me.

There was a soldier in the Revolution with the last name of Harrison... His son, William Henry Harrison served in the War of 1812 and was elected President (serving only a month after dying of pneumonia). William Henry Harrison's grandson, Benjamin Harrison served 1 term as President in the late 19th century.

In the early 20th Century we had the Roosevelts-- Teddy and Franklin were cousins... And Franklin and his wife, Eleanor were also cousins.

Of all the Republican families you mentioned, the Bush family on the Republican side probably comes the closest to the Kennedy dynasty on the Democratic side.

The other examples you mentioned. The only Nixon in the Nixon family to be involved in politics was Richard M. Nixon. Each time the Nixon name appeared on your list it was Richard M. Nixon. Each time Dole appeared on your list it was Bob Dole. It wasn't multiple family members in either of those instances-- it was the same guy remaining active in politics for several years. The Bush family is the only one in which there is some sort of patrilineal dynasty-- going back to Congressman Prescot Bush, to his son George H. W., to his sons George W. and Jeb...

At December 13, 2005 4:23 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

PS: I could be wrong, but I believe former Chicago mayor, Carter Harrison (mayor from 1879-his assassination in 1893) and his son Carter Henry Harrison (mayor from 1897-1915) were somehow related to both presidents William Henry and Benjamin Harrison.

BTW, both Carter Harrison Sr. and Carter Henry Harrison were elected mayor FIVE times, a legacy rivaling the Daley legacy currently in place in Chicago.


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