Jefferson: Our Constitution 'Wears a Mixed Aspect of Monarchy and Republicanism' – Are There Benefits to More Monarchy in the Mix?
Do you believe there would be benefits to an American monarchy?
by If You Can Keep It | 2.12.20
Ben Franklin famously said America is “a republic, if you can keep it.” Can we keep America a republic? Should we? This is the Part 2 of "American Monarchy," which is the first entry in our ongoing series asking significant, but controversial, questions about our system of governance.
What you're saying
Before we get into the potential benefits of a monarchy, here are some of your thoughts from part 1:
"I think that we would be better served eliminating what we know as the presidency and keeping a three-head executive branch in place of it. That way one jackass can never make decisions that affect hundreds of millions of people on his or her own." -OceanSized
"The idea behind our country’s fight for independence and our constitution was to free ourselves from a monarchy permanently. Our founders knew first-hand what a tyrannical monarch could do." -Brianne
*Yes, Jeff, I realize the irony of removing the rest of your sentence, which is about removing quotes from context. Click on Jeff's, or anyone else's quote, to read what they had to say in its entirety.
What would be the benefits of a monarchy?
- We elect a leader based on their promises during a campaign. But as soon as they’re in office, they’re restricted by the other two branches of government, legislative and judicial.
- Trump, for instance, promised a “big beautiful wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border. He also promised to repeal and replace Obamacare. Neither happened.
- But Trump is not an outlier. All previous commanders-in-chief have made campaign promises that Congress or the courts prevented them from enacting.
- A monarchy would remedy these issues. President-Kings would be allowed to enact the vision the population voted for.
Thomas Jefferson had an idea (bold ours):
"Where a constitution, like ours, wears a mixed aspect of monarchy and republicanism, its citizens will naturally divide into two classes of sentiment, according as their tone of body or mind, their habits, connections and callings, induce them to wish to strengthen either the monarchical or the republican features of the constitution. Some will consider it as an elective monarchy, which had better be made hereditary, and therefore endeavor to lead towards that all the forms and principles of its administration. Others will view it as an energetic republic, turning in all its points on the pivot of free and frequent elections."
- What Jefferson is saying is that America is a mix of monarchy and republic, with various factions wanting different amounts of each. When it comes to this American cocktail, some will want a greater concentration of executive power; others, for more republic to be added.
- One solution, then, is what Jefferson alluded to: an elective monarchy.
- Consider this a republic-monarchy hybrid.
- The voters decide on their leader. Congress gets out of the way. That leader, for the next four or eight years, chooses the direction of the country.
- Sean, who identifies as an “American monarchist,” told The Guardian that his preferred system of government “is some manner of elective monarchy modeled to a degree after what you saw in the Holy Roman Empire.”
“The individual governor of each of the 50 states could vote amongst themselves on a new monarch in the event of an emperor stepping down … One of the reasons that I, and many others, favor monarchy, has to do with the benefits that a single individual can have when it comes to matters of foreign policy, international relations, international trade, et cetera.”
Praising the king
- It’s not just Reddit users on r/monarchism who refuse to provide their last names who support a return of the king.
- In 2018, the New York Times covered a study by a management professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania which found “‘robust and quantitatively meaningful evidence’ that monarchies outperform other forms of government” and provide nations with “stability that often translates into economic gains.”
- “Most people think monarchies are something anachronistic,” said Mauro F. Guillén, the Wharton professor who led the study. “They think that modern forms of government are superior and have trouble accepting that monarchies have advantages.”
What do you think?
Many countries have had multiple constitutions (the Dominican Republic has had 32). Many more have uncodified constitutions (Canada, the UK, Israel). Are you tired of congressional gridlock? Do you think the American system of government is broken? Would a monarchy – or monarchic principles – be the fix? Join the conversation.
Look for part 3 of this series - the drawbacks of a monarchy - on Friday. And be sure to comment as we want to include your thoughts in our upcoming posts.
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