The 2016 U.S. Presidential election might still be more than a year and a half away, but the dance of democracy has started playing and it seems quite obvious that another Clinton or Bush as the President would be a step backwards for democracy. One of the major differences between a democracy and a monarchy is the contrast in the selection process of head of the state. Being a part of the ruling family or a close relative of the ruler automatically qualifies an individual to ascend to the position of being the next ruler.
The focus is not on the capabilities of the candidate or the potential candidates among the country’s population. This is still the scenario across the world in countries which are being ruled as a monarchy. This includes countries like Brunei, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. Though UK is a democracy, the kingdom which once ruled more than half the world, still chooses to revere and maintain the idea of monarchy. Even when faced by recession and minimal economic growth today, the government of UK chooses to oblige to the whims and fancies of these nominal kings, queens, princes, their wives, and their vacations. Their expenses which are astronomically high are paid for by the government from the tax revenue received in the form of income tax and a multitude of other taxes levied on the reeling working-class population. It must also be mentioned that a majority of the population of UK does not see this ridiculous practice of honoring the Queen, the Princes and their families as a tax burden.
The reason to elaborate about monarchism is that its tendencies can also be seen in many democracies around the world. For example, the world’s most populous democracy, India, has many leaders at all the levels of governance who have got the position merely on the basis of their blood-line and not because they are deserving candidates. In fact, the opposition party in India at the moment has a history of sticking to people from one particular family to be the chairperson and head of their party structure. The case has been the same for many decades in the world’s oldest democracy, the United States. Many generations of grand-fathers, their sons, and grandsons have technically inherited the office of the United States President.
In the 2008 presidential elections, population of the U.S. chose to overthrow this culture of presidents being from a single family. Bringing in Barack Obama as the first non-white American President to the office was a major step forward for democracy. This kind of step taken by the entire population was repeated in India in 2013, where a candidate who had his humble origins as a tea seller, Narendra Modi, was chosen as the Prime Minister of the country. These two actions showed the power of people’s faith in democracy and how it is different from a monarchy.
Come 2016 U.S. Presidential elections, the nation is staring at whether or not it would take a step forward. Though the final list of the candidates has not been declared yet, the dance of democracy has started playing and it seems quite obvious that another Clinton or Bush as the President would be a major step backwards for democracy. Hillary Clinton’s endeavor to try to play the role of a ‘champion’ for the working middle-class seems as futile as her answers to the hard-hitting questions about the private email accounts that she used when she was the U.S. Secretary of State.
Add to that, the ambiguous answers from her to the questions about the more than $2 billion donation received by her family run charitable foundation. It has been reported that the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation received donations from governments, corrupt politicians, and corporate giants from around the world. This includes donations from Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries known for their gender inequality and maltreatment of women, a cause that Clinton proudly says she would like to fight for.
Clinton has decided to keep media away from her campaign kick-start in which she is meeting with students and common people. Her visits to common restaurants and other places in her van named ‘Scooby Doo’ are a design of her PR strategy to look and play the part as if she will be fighting for the common working class Americans if she is voted to power. However, what she chooses to avoid is stating hard facts about how she will be working for the middle-class, or what her policies are regarding wages and tax reform. She has not declared her stand on immigration issues and excessive use of force by the authorities across the U.S.
The fact that her husband and former President of the U.S., Bill Clinton, has said that he would continue running the charitable foundation, does not help her candidature either. She is yet to come clean about the whole ‘office-of-profit’ issue that would arise if she is elected the President of the United States. In the meantime, the foundation has declared a new policy of not accepting donations from middle-eastern and gulf countries while continuing to receive money from European nations. This stinks of the kind of hypocrisy that Clinton’s candidature shows and the lack of authentic resolve on her part. This looks like a stunt and a ploy to distract the attention away from pressing issues faced by the U.S. population today.
Similar issues abound the candidature of Jeb Bush, who is potentially considering the run for the White House. It was reported that a cap of $1 million has been placed on the donations for Jeb’s 2016 U.S. Presidential run. Adding to that, there have been claims about misrepresentation of facts on behalf of Jeb. He had mentioned details which showed he was of a Mexican-American origin. Jeb’s wife Colomba has continuously been on a jewelry shopping spree for the last decade. This has now come under intense media scrutiny as Colomba had taken a huge line of credit when Bush was the governor of Florida. She was also fined at the Atlanta airport when she under-declared the worth of the goods she was carrying through customs.
The fact that the U.S. has a population of close to 320 million, makes one wonder if choosing candidates from a select group of families to run for the U.S. Presidential elections has a sinister reason. As the dance of democracy has started playing for the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections, it seems quite obvious that another Clinton or Bush as the President would be a step backwards for democracy.
(This article is Part 1 of a series of reports about the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections. Please check this space for more.)
By Ankur Sinha