Diatribes of Jay

This is a blog of essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to economic, social and political problems. It has a subject-matter index, a list of recent posts, and permalinks at the ends of posts. Comments are moderated and may take time to appear. Note: Profile updated 4/7/12

18 October 2016

The Queen and Don

[For reasons why Hillary should play the gender card on the most basic gut level now, click here.]

There are many ways in which average Americans will have massive buyers’ remorse if they are foolish enough to elect Donald their president. The challenge for Hillary’s strategists, operatives, and ad-makers, and for Hillary-leaning PACs, is to make sure they feel that remorse keenly before they buy.

One big source of remorse we Yanks don’t talk about much. To see it, we must think about the Brits.

The Brits have two people to do the job of our President. They have a Queen, and they have a Prime Minister. The Queen is the symbol of British culture and pride. She personifies what it means to be British—the stiff upper lip, the steadfastness in hard times, the doggedness in adversity and tragedy, the cleverness in problem-solving, and the magnanimity in victory.

Above all, she symbolizes calm reason on the choppy seas of human emotion. Against tragedies like the 7/7 terrorist attacks that were the Brits’ 9/11, she consoles the people, shares and guides their feelings, and puts them in a frame of mind to do what must be done. She’s the coach, the minister, the national psychologist, and (in a low-key British way) the cheerleader.

We all know what the PM does. He (or she) leads and guides the hurly-burly of politics. Today, she runs the country, as much as anyone can in the world’s oldest and most functional democracy. And when he fails, as David Cameron did in trying to avert Brexit, he steps down, so that other, fresher, readier minds can carry on.

Over the centuries since Magna Carta, the center of British power has shifted from the Monarch to the Parliament and the Prime Minister. Now the Monarch’s political powers are entirely vestigial. A recent popular play, “King Charles III,” speculates what might happen if a King tried to reject a bill passed by Parliament, rather than rubber-stamp it as all modern Monarchs are expected to do. The result, even in drama, was no affirmation of Monarchial power.

But despite their well-known lack of “real” power—and the enormous expense of maintaining their royal luxury—British Monarchs serve an invaluable role. They preserve, interpret, and sometimes extend British culture, for the benefit of both the Brits and the rest of the world. They help maintain a culture and government that are among the most admired and respected worldwide.

Can you imagine Donald doing that for us?

In virtually every respect, whether psychological or moral—Donald is the polar opposite of Queen Elizabeth II. Where she is calm and steady, he is angry, irascible and moody. At times he is volcanic, just like a certain Adolf. Where she helps her people face hard facts, he exaggerates, lies, and makes fantastic, unattainable promises. Where she understates and downplays, everything he says or does is “big,” “great” or “huge.” Where she restrains herself in meticulous morality, he is a libertine, a hater bent on vengeance, a fomenter of violence and occasional sexual assaulter.

It was bad enough when Dubya was president. We Yanks had to bow our heads and accept a leader who could barely speak English and couldn’t express a coherent thought longer than a bumper sticker. We had to writhe in silent jealousy while watching Tony Blair and the British Parliament articulate, and then we had to lament when Tony Blair, despite his rhetorical flair, ended up as Dubya’s poodle.

As bad as Dubya’s misrule was, Donald’s would be infinitely worse. He has no soul. If he’s not a psychopath or (as his biographer Tony Schwartz has said) a sociopath, he has narcissistic personality disorder. He talks incessantly about himself. He compliments himself. He praises himself and his ideas, giving no details whatsoever. When opposed, he swears. He hurls imprecations. He bashes women for not being suitably obsequious, or for being fat. He changes and twists his views and his policies whenever it suits his dimly perceived purposes. He foments hate, fear and rage. He suggests assassinating and jailing his political opponents.

And he dispenses praise and encouragement with with an eye-dropper. In a variation of the old fire and brimstone, he doesn’t say that African-Americans are going to Hell, but that many already live there. He assumes that some Mexicans are good people; he insults a Gold Star mother for her silence; and he allows that Hillary the “criminal” never quits.

Yes, we Yanks traditionally don’t care much for royalty. Yes, our Constitution outlaws it. Yes, the common American thinks he’s just as good as anyone else in the world (although he can’t quite articulate why). Yes, shame and embarrassment are vanishing from our homeland.

But somewhere, deep down within us Yanks, doesn’t there still live a desire to do and be good? Don’t we all want to be respected and admired, not just feared? Don’t we want a nation and leaders that the world will look up to?

Maybe not. Maybe we are irredeemable. But I doubt that. Not yet.

In American families, women are the traditional purveyors of moral culture. Mothers and older sisters are the ones who, most often, teach youngsters manners and right from wrong. Which of them would think of training kids to be less like the Queen and more like Donald?

If a spark of shame and goodness still exists within the American psyche, one thing is absolutely certain. A win by Donald will have us hiding our faces in the shadows for four long years. Those of us who go abroad will cease trying to defend our nation, its policies and its leadership and simply hang our heads in silence.

If Hillary’s fans can help us see all this in advance, we might avoid that sad fate. We might reject the ruffian by the biggest landslide in American history.

To neglect women’s roles in helping us see and teach the difference would be an egregious mistake in political strategy. Downplaying Hillary’s gender, which is as obvious as her experience, is no good reason to make that mistake. We Yanks will never have a queen; but all of us, of whatever gender, can appreciate the vast gulf between Britain’s Queen and the Donald’s seething, leaden mind and spirit, which would surely drag us all under.



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