Do we like political dynasties in this country? Are political dynasties good for the country? Peggy Noonan discusses in this article the very real possibility that we could go Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton. She says that on the Democratic side, people seem to be in a trance that causes them to ignore great candidates and focus only on Sen. Clinton (D-NY). But Noonan also seems to think that this is precisely the same kind of trance the GOP was in back in the 2000 race when it focused on then-Gov. Bush.
Why the trance? Noonan explains that it is because in modern politics, “A political family gains allies--retainers, supporters, hangers-on, admirers, associates, in-house Machiavellis.” She continues her analysis of this modern day royal court, writing, “The bigger the government, the more ways allies can be awarded, which binds them more closely. Your destiny is theirs. Members of the court recruit others. Money lines spread person to person, company to company, board to board, mover to mover.”
These political support systems become somewhat self-sustaining. They are “machines” that are “up and ready and good to go every election cycle.” Some of the people in these mechanisms are good people. Some are bad people. And some are just useful idiots.
Noonan asks, “Is this good for our democracy, this air of inevitability?” She then adds, “It would be understandable if they were families of a most extraordinary natural distinction and self-sacrifice. But these are not the Adamses of Massachusetts we're talking about.”
I think Noonan buries the lead on this issue, only briefly alluding to the role of expanding government in all of this. Actually, bigger government is THE problem. These powerful political family dynasties exist BECAUSE of the expanding size and role of the federal government. Noonan strikes true when she says that as government grows, so too do the number of people who owe their destinies to the politically powerful.
Even if you think that the central government should be providing all kinds of services and does a good job of administering its massive bloat, this is a reason to consider the case for limited government. We have discovered through sad experience that campaign finance reform does nothing to fix this problem. Even publicly financed elections would not fix this problem. The money lines Noonan talks about would not evaporate under such a system, but would only be obfuscated and made less transparent.
I agree with LaVarr Webb that due to the growth of the federal bureaucracy, the job of president has become too difficult for one person. We will likely never have another president that we consider to be competent unless we not only stop this growth, but substantially scale back our current system. This would involve farming activities out from the federal government to their most appropriate level of government, and getting rid of activities in which government has no business being involved.
And what happens four or eight years down the road? Another Bush? If you want to break this cycle, limiting the federal government is the solution.