Unknown knowns: Can language fix US political injustice of the dynasties?

by Rashmee

Posted on May 15, 2015



What's not to smile about?  Bill Clinton and George W Bush are either products of – or creating – political dynasties
What’s not to smile about? Bill Clinton and George W Bush are either products of – or creating – political dynasties

Pooja Bhatia has a great idea on OZY about how to spread America’s political lolly. “Why not amend the Constitution to prevent presidential dynasties?” Click here to read her piece but if you don’t here’s the key point: “Something simple would do, like Any immediate family member of a former president is ineligible to run for the presidency.”

That sounds very smart. In principle. How would it work in practice? Would it prevent someone like Hillary Clinton running for president? Or Jeb Bush?

I rather think not because language is never the lock on any door if someone’s set on the task of prising it open. The language of the law, and indeed the law doesn’t really prevent injustice or crime, it merely punishes it.

(Pooja herself eventually comes to the conclusion that such an amendment won’t work because the Founding Fathers would never have condoned curtailing voter choice, but that’s another matter).

Anyway, consider the cases in the UK of people who divorce their partners on paper in order to claim certain benefits. Consider the ones who live with someone as if they were married to them, but don’t formally tie the knot in order to claim certain benefits. And then, what about all those children who “divorced” their parents? 

Why couldn’t Hillary simply divorce Bill and run for office? Or Jeb Bush “divorce” his brother – or his whole family?

The truth is language can provide a framework for argument and action but it can’t fix the world.

“By using stale metaphors,  similes and idioms, you save  much mental effort, at the  cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.”           - George Orwell
“By using stale metaphors, similes and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.”
– George Orwell

Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK

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