Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why aren't liberals advising us to have a monarchy too?

For as long as I remember, liberals have pointed to the Scandinavians as the models of what Americans should want to be like when they grow up. I can't remember them pointing to the Norwegians, but surely I must have missed it. And I don't recall the Finns being held up for our admiration.

But how many times have we had the Swedish placed before us as the paragons of civilization? How many times have we been confronted by some liberal, brandishing his Volvo, who, beads of sweat forming on his brow, worked himself up into a lather trying to convince us that the greatest aspiration of an American is to be a good Swede?

The Swedish allow same-sex marriage, ergo we should allow same sex marriage. Sweden hands out free syringes and clean needles to drug addicts, therefore we should hand them out too. Swedish government is socialist, ergo, we should install socialism too. The Swedish don't spank their children, therefore we shouldn't spank ours either.

We hear similar admonitions about Canada, which is not a Scandinavian country. But that is only an accident of geography. It might as well be.

The Dutch too loom large in the liberal's political pantheon. And when I saw in the news that the Dutch Queen Beatrix was abdicating and handing over the monarchy to her son, the new King Willem-Alexander, I thought to myself, "The Dutch have a monarchy?"

I guess I have not been paying much attention to Holland, which accounts for the fact that I was simply unaware of this. It is a lesson in what can happen to a country if you don't keep your eye on it.

According to news stories, not only does Holland have a monarchy, but it is extremely popular among the Dutch. Approximately three-quarters are in support of it. There is some opposition to the monarchy. The investiture today of the new King was expected to be greeted with a sea of orange, the royal family's official color. But opponents of the monarchy were being told that they were to show their color by wearing white clothes and hanging white sheets.

I'm hoping that Swedes are less anxious than Americans when they hear the terms "hanging" and "white sheets" in the same sentence.

And if you check around, you find out very quickly that all the countries we are supposed to be like--all the countries that are progressive and forward looking--have constitutional monarchies. Both Sweden and Holland have one. Even Canada, which persists in maintaining it is not Scandinavian, recognizes Queen Elizabeth as its sovereign.

So I'm wondering: If the liberals think we're all supposed to aspire to be Swedes, then why have they kept this little morsel of Swedish and Dutch culture from us? Where are the lectures on why we should install a monarchy? Why haven't they paused between courses of Swedish meatballs and pickled gherkin to inform us of the virtues of having a King? Why have they simply sped by in their Saabs without stopping to sell us on the salutary benefits of having a royal family all our own?

It's not like the liberals never saw a monarchy they liked. Just listen in some time as they reminisce, dreamy-eyed, about the Kennedy administration. Ah, Camelot!

Come to think of it, I have met many Canadians, but don't remember every hearing one waxing loyal over the Queen either. Then again, these are people who won't even admit they are really Scandinavians. So it's not like we could trust them anyway.


Singring said...

'The Swedish allow same-sex marriage, ergo we should allow same sex marriage. Sweden hands out free syringes and clean needles to drug addicts, therefore we should hand them out too. '

This would abe a really, really good argument if this is what liberals were saying.

Funnily enough - they aren't.

What they are saying is that in countries like Sweden and Norway (but also elsewhere), empirical data suggest that allowing same sex marriage and handing out clean needles does not lead to a significant negative impact on measures of societal health and success and often have a positive impact.

They are saying this because liberals think that empirical evidence on the consequences of policies is a good way of devising good policy.

Maybe this is a bit too complicated for conservatives. Maybe conservatives can't comprehend that this argument goes beyond a 'let's do what they are doing' simplicity.

As to monarchy: If someone wants to make a rational argument as to how it benefits society and then produce Sweden and Denmark as examples of that, they can go ahead.

But beware some of the complications (I know, not something conservatives typically stop to consider, but let's give it a try, shall we?):

1.) What kinds of monarchies are we talking about here? It might not have occured to the typical conservative that Saudi-Arabia, Bahrain, Brunei, Jordan and Tibet, for example, are also monarchies -and in fact are much more auocratic monarchies than in Scandinavia, for example...so if monarchy is in and of itself a positive influence on society, then these societies should be doing better than Scandinavia in some of hese metrics, right? Do you think that is so?

2.) What particular metrics are you going to compare to see what effect monarchy has on society? With homosexuality it should be quite clear - marriage rates, divorce rates, imporvements over co-habitation, etc. Same with clean needles - we can compare HIV incidence and drug use, for example.

But what about monarchy - what metric would you use that attests to the benefits to society?

I understand that, from a conservative black/white view of the world, none of this careful analysis of data is necessary, which is why the liberal view might seem contradictory or facile.

Maybe this will help to alleviate soem of the misunderstanding here.

Lee said...

Martin, I think liberals would be just fine with King Barack and Queen Michelle. What constitution?

Anonymous said...

Fyi: the Queen of Holland was born in Ottawa during ww2. Her birth room was declared Holland Territory for her birthday. That is why Holland gives ottawa so many tulip bulbs and it is now tulipfest