04.13.2015 1

Queen Hillary?

hillary clintonBy Robert Romano

Yesterday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for the presidency of the United States.

Her husband, Bill Clinton, of course, was the 42nd President of the United States, serving from January 1993 through January 2001.

Across the aisle, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, is also thought to be close to announcing his own candidacy.

His brother, of course, was George W. Bush, the 43rd President; and his father was George H.W. Bush, the 41st President.

Today, both Clinton and Bush are not mere minor figures in the 2016 race. If polls are to be believed, they are both major contenders. But why?

Why are Americans attracted to dynasties?

Robert Kennedy — John Kennedy’s little brother — might have been president if he wasn’t assassinated in 1968 while running for president. Ted Kennedy ran for president in 1980, with CBS even suspending regular primetime coverage to interview him on the eve of the campaign. JFK’s son, John F. Kennedy, Jr. might have become a prominent politician if he had not tragically died in a plane crash in 1999.

Franklin Roosevelt was Theodore Roosevelt’s fifth cousin.

Benjamin Harrison was the grandson of William Henry Harrison.

John Quincy Adams was John Adams’ son.

It even works for those who run for president and don’t necessarily win.

Take Rand Paul. His father, Ron Paul, ran for president numerous times.

Or Mitt Romney. His father, George Romney, also briefly ran for president in 1968.

So, prominent political families are nothing new in American politics. In that context, perhaps lineage is seen as something of a qualifier that gives a candidate instant credibility.

But why?

Is it because in politics you prefer the devil you know?

Or is it more fundamental to human nature, dating back to mankind’s tribal days, where the son of the tribe’s leader was groomed to be the leader?

Later, obviously, much of mankind grew accustomed to living under lineal monarchies.

But even in a republic, like Rome, political families were the order of the day. The first Brutus slayed the last Roman king, and even killed his own sons who attempted to restore that monarchy, and the latter Brutus, his direct descendant, assassinated Julius Caesar. Octavian, who later became Augustus, First Emperor of Rome, was declared Caesar’s heir in his will.

So this is nothing new. But what does it all mean?

In 2016, voters in both parties will be choosing from familiar family names.

Yet, with a country of over 300 million people, why is it that just a few choice families would singularly be qualified to run the nation’s affairs?

The candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush may be the ultimate test of whether or not lineage trumps substance. Because, there is little question they would not even be contenders but for their last names.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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