If politics seems sclerotic, if new thinking or fresh approaches seem to be in far too little evidence, and if millions of Americans resent what Angelo Codevilla described as “the ruling class,” perhaps this is one of the reasons why.
Of course, these scions of famous families don’t directly inherit their seats. The voters choose them. But that doesn’t mean the deck isn’t at least somewhat stacked. Anybody who denies that big-money players act as gatekeepers of the ballot box isn’t in touch with reality. Likewise, political organizations are passed down from one generation to the next. The political advantages that come with a “ruling class” pedigree are substantial, and they seem to be growing.
None of which is to say that voters, in reaction, should automatically oppose a second-generation (or third- or fourth-) politico. After all, a John Quincy Adams or a Robert Taft does sometimes emerge and prove to be a worthy statesman. But here’s a suggestion: When faced with the choice between a political heir and a newbie, perhaps voters should break any “ties” or near-ties (in terms of their own impressions and preferences) in favor of the novice.
Joe Schmoe might not be a better choice than the 1940s Robert Taft. But surely Joe the Plumber should get consideration over the next skirt-chasing Kennedy. Surely, likewise, the presidential big leagues can do just fine without being turned into the Bush leagues.