April 24, 2024

Making an End to Political Succession

Voters in New York should take the number one lesson from the Bush years to heart and refuse to vote Caroline Kennedy into the U.S. Senate as Hillary Clinton’s replacement.  Ms. Kennedy says that she has good relationships in Washington that could help the people of her state.  But what exactly are her qualifications for the job?  Knowing “the right people” is no substitute for actual ability.  Neither is being the daughter of a murdered president. 

Kathleen Parker literally mauled Sarah Palin in her Washington Post columns during the 2008 presidential election.  Now Parker says that “Caroline Kennedy is no Sarah Palin”. 

Some of the differences between the two women benefit the pro-Palin argument, but the underlying premise of the debate is flawed. Though they both are women, the important distinction is the power differential of the respective offices being sought.

There can be little debate that Palin, as a governor and former mayor, has the superior political resume. More to the point, she was duly elected to both of those positions and has enjoyed an 80 percent approval rating as governor.

Her biography is familiar to all sentient beings, so there’s no need to belabor it here. Suffice to say, she worked hard to get from Wasilla High to the governor’s mansion.

Come again, Kathleen?  But this article is not about Palin-bashing, so I shan’t digress.

Perhaps Ms. Parker’s new-found respect for Sarah Palin, shallow as it is, is based in part on her recognition of an unfortunate reality in American politics:  For all of our bluster about democracy, opportunity, and paying one’s way in life, there are a disturbing number of political dynasties in play in this country. 

The idea that congressional seats, governorships, and even the presidential office should follow lines of birth is both absurd and un-American.  Yet here we are, once again faced with the prospect of electing, both through our own foolishness and a stunted, preferential political process, an heiress who has done nothing to earn the position on her merits.

Down the way in Delaware, a similar situation is shaping up in the form of one Beau Biden, the presumptive heir to his father’s seat in the Senate once his father’s former chief of staff Ted Kaufman serves out his term in 2010.

The Biden situation isn’t as disturbing as the one in New York.  If Joe Biden’s son is elected into his former position, he at least has a resume that’s a partial fit for the job.  The younger Biden was duly elected as Delaware’s state Attorney General in 2006 and is now serving in Iraq. 

Not so with Caroline Kennedy who lacks even the modest experience that Beau Biden has in government, even if it was received whilst riding his father’s coattails. 

Voters in New York should reject Ms. Kennedy’s bid for office both because of the very thing she lacks – qualifications – and because of who she is – a blue-blooded member of a royal American political family. 

In 2010, voters in Delaware should consider Beau Biden with the skepticism with which all candidates for public office deserve to be received.  We have had enough of political succession in this country to last the rest of our lifetimes.


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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