For a democratic nation, Americans are ironically fascinated by royalty, in real life and otherwise. After Game of Thrones ends its long run Sunday night, our fascination with royal power needs a new outlet.
I shouldn’t need to give you a history lesson on the fear of the Founders on this matter, or in the extraordinary care that George Washington took to prevent the presidency from devolving into a position of royalty, a position explicitly wired into our Constitution:
“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States.”
It was a good run.
Like Daenerys and her last dragon reducing King’s Landing to a smoldering pile of slag and ashes in the penultimate episode, Donald Trump has been busy using his Twitter feed and virtually unlimited control of the Republican Party to do the same to the country.
For Republicans eager for the next, inevitable step of Trumpism and tired of some musty 240-year-old Constitution getting in the way of rallies, rage-tweeting and lib-owning, I’ve got a modest proposal:
Why not end this republic, and launch a glorious new era of royals and royalty, where a man who behaves like a king can actually be one and govern as he desires? After all, he’s surrounded not by coequal members of a representative legislature and independent judiciary, but by lackeys and lickspittles groveling at his gouty feet. Inside this Trump kingdom, advisers rise and fall not based on merit, performance, or ideas but instead on fealty, servility, and an ability to abase themselves to the king’s many whims. Let’s just cut to the chase.
Why not forget the messy problems of democracy and embrace an American monarchy and absolute rule with the Trump family as our new liege lords? At this point, what precisely is your objection? Aren’t you loyal? Aren’t you patriotic?
Are you a Trump supporter devoted to the idea of a president as a national model for judgment, probity, and conservative leadership in word, affect, and deed? Yeah, sell that somewhere else. You’ve not only accepted his eccentric behaviors, governance by ragetweet, open defiance of the law, thinly-veiled xenophobia and racism, and obsessive, juvenile revenge fantasies but you’re emulating them, like the good courtiers you’ve become.
Be honest with yourselves; how far is the leap from President Trump to King Trump in your minds? How many Trump supporters have wondered unironically about a third term for the Donald, or of replacing one Trump with another when this girthy beast finally strokes out? How many of the livid, red-hatted masses screaming themselves hoarse at rallies or staring hypnotized at Fox wouldn’t trade American democracy for a system where Donald gets to win all the time?
All the executive power excesses that left you frothing in rage at Barack Obama were like the mildest authoritarian cosplay with Trump. You now love royal edicts—I mean, executive orders—issued from the Iron Twitter Throne. You weaponized the Republican caucus to support His Majesty in the House so egregiously you took an ass-beating from the politically incompetent Democrats, losing 40 seats in 2018. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell holds the line for Trump and former Tea Party super-constitutionalist stalwarts like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have gone full royalist, along with Lindsey Graham.
GOP elected officials, rank and file Republicans, and most certainly King Trump’s eager heralds in the clickservative media have declared Trump and his family to be above the law in every meaningful respect. When Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina announced Don Jr. would be subpoenaed in the ongoing Senate probe of Russia’s 2016 election manipulation, the reaction inside his own caucus was to burn the respected North Carolina conservative to the ground. The current view, that this president can’t be indicted, can’t be investigated, and that his family, friends, and businesses are also above the law, isn’t one a functioning republic can tolerate, so why not pull the plug?
Let’s not pretend there is a line even this mad king can cross that will lift the tyranny of fear caused by his tweets. Not one of you will hold him to account, and let’s not pretend otherwise. Even those of you who could, won’t. Not one of you still standing with him has a final red line.
As Washington’s swamp of lobbyists, special influences, and parochial interest groups has grown deeper, more miasmic, and more expansive than ever before, don’t you think the swamp creatures would be delighted with a monarchy and a puppet Parliament? Spoiler: Lobbyists love one-stop shopping.
Think of the upsides! A Royal Court would also give you more of the one thing in which Donald Trump excels; constant, blaring, self-aggrandizing spectacle. Think of the parades! Think of the uniforms, sashes, epaulets, and medals! Imagine Trump handing out knighthoods and titles! (“Arise, Sir Gorka!” “We name you Baroness Huckabee of Arkansas.”) Think of tweets becoming law by royal fiat!
Every Royal Court needs a jester, and while the competition will be heated, there's no doubt the scribes and heralds of Royal—pardon me, Fox—News, a 24-hour network dedicated to his Imperial Majesty’s pleasure, could produce any number of applicants for court fool. Lou Dobbs is a bit long in the tooth for the job, and Sean Hannity a bit heavyset and lacking in tumbling chops, but Tucker Carlson might want to try on the traditional motley, jester's cap and bells, and pointed shoes, a Will Somers to Trump’s Henry VIII. The difference between Trump and Henry VIII isn’t the number of wives or their obesity; a careful historical study reveals Henry had normal-sized hands, while Trump’s require a wee scepter.
Think of the intrigue inside Castle Trump at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! Sure it’ll have a dark side, but that’s part of the fun. Trump has purged every shred of dissent from his circle, surrounding himself with what Roger of Wendover, a medieval historian of the rule of King John I, called “Evil counselors… who, in their desire to please the king, gave their advice, not according to reason, but as the king's pleasure dictated.”
While he’s officially banished from the kingdom, Necromancer-Royal Steve Bannon is still brewing a heady poison of nationalist racism, populist racism, and xenophobic racism for the Trump faithful. Stephen Miller is practically cinematic as the Littlefinger of 1600 Pennsylvania, the whispering sycophant and inside player who revels in cruelty in the name of the King. Kellyanne Conway, Mistress of Whispers to the Moron Borgias, will likely be thrown off a parapet at some point, but for now, she loves her position at Court. Baron William of Barr’s Star Chamber will be must-see viewing on Fox’s Torturing the Traitors show, narrated by Madame Chief Justice Jeanine Pirro.
Princess Ivanka and royal consort Jared of the House of Kushner hold government jobs of no discernible function but of enormous consequence. Why? The walls of Castle Trump keep that secret, thank the gods.
Nevertheless, the two have the ear of the King and are literally above the law when it comes to security clearance laws, ethics rules, and the use of federal offices to enrich themselves. Those things aren’t wrong in the new world. They’re just part of Trumpian droit du douchebag.
While Trump treats Princess Tiffany as if she were the daughter of a chambermaid and Eric the Slack-jawed as if he should be sent as a hostage to some other royal house, it’s Don Jr. who is the current heir apparent, already emulating the King in every tangible way. He’s behind on wives and mistresses, but he’s got time.
It’ll be fun! And great television!
Our republic was a great and consequential experiment, a light in the world for two and a half centuries, but clearly, Republicans have grown bored with the idea of it and with the hard work it takes to sustain it. So let’s get to it. Amend the Constitution—oh, fine, just burn it to the ground like King’s Landing—and get it over with.
Don’t makes excuses that you’re just getting while the getting is good, enjoying the last hurrah before the demographic death clock of the white walker—I mean Boomer—die-off ends the party. Your support of Trump isn't because you live in the immediate, expedient political Now. Your support of Trump is because you have turned your object of veneration from America and its constitutional system to a family of faux-gold plated grifters.
And so, my Republican friends, it’s time to embrace monarchy. Let your id be your guide, your past be a memory, and Trump be your King.
Bend the knee. You’ve gotten quite good at it.