Dear Royal Baby: We Americans apologize for our Revolution; please be our Absolute Monarch

Dear Royal Baby:

You had an ancestor named King George III that we Americans said a lot of nasty things about, and we’d like to apologize to you, since you seem like a nice baby and anyway, we’ve gotten over our dissatisfaction with your Highness’s family. We wonder if you’d like to take back over in a few years.

See, our own ancestors really minded taxation without representation, and, no offense, but your great great great etc. grandfather didn’t let us have real representation but gladly put taxes on things like our tea.

But we no longer mind the principle of taxation without representation. We’re actively trying to make it difficult for our poor people, minorities and college students to vote. We also won’t let 5 million people convicted of artificially defined “felonies” vote or run for office (sometimes inflicting $250 of property damages can make you a felon). All of these individuals pay Federal social security taxes if they work (and they all do at some point in their lives), which go into the general budget. Many pay state taxes, too. But we’re going to see if we can stop them from having representation even though they pay taxes. We’ll make them have i.d., which will require them to spend a lot of time running around and standing in line at the DMV, and will cost them money that they often don’t have. Anyway, we want them unrepresented but we want to raise their taxes. So there really wasn’t any point in making all that trouble at Boston Harbor over the tea taxes set by your ancestor. We’re fine with the way he used to do things, now.

Our silly ancestors also used to mind the imposition of the Anglican Church as the State Church. I’m afraid your forebear was pretty hard on Quakers, who didn’t get baptized; that was jailtime for them. Our founders minded having their souls ordered around that way and wanted to forbid the Establishment of any religion.

But we’ve rethought this idea. We’ve decided that since some forms of Christianity forbid abortion, we’re going to make it impossible for women to have abortions in states like Texas. Although abortion is perfectly legal, we’ve managed to ensure that 88% of counties in the country don’t have an abortion clinic or other facility where one can be performed. We don’t outright forbid it, we just set up Catch-22s to make it impossible. We are going to reestablish the old 18th century Anglican precepts in a lot of areas of life. This guy Cuccinelli in Virginia wants to bring back sodomy laws, something King George’s police knew all about. Since your royal Highness is the future head of the Anglican church, we’d like you to take back over dictating our spiritual lives to us. Given the changes in Anglicanism, you might not be able to help us with that sodomy thing (you’ll have to wait a while before we let you know what that is). But as absolute monarch slash head of the official Church of the United Kingdom of American States, you’d get us close to the model that Ted Cruz and Steve King are trying to impose on us, and its a little unlikely that you will be anywhere nearly as bonkers as they are.

King George III angered our ancestors by issuing “writs of assistance”– a kind of blanket search warrant that allowed police to enter private homes and businesses on fishing expeditions for evidence of smuggling. (Your ancestor was as hung up on “smuggling” as we are now about “terrorism”). For a while we had this silly fourth amendment to our constitution that required that police get a warrant before they went snooping through our records.

But we’ve decided to bring back the writs of assistance, which we now call “national security letters.” And we’ve decided that the government can go through millions of our private records all they like, without a warrant or evidence of wrongdoing or even specific search in mind. We’re going to let the police know who we call, when, for how long, and where we were when we did it. No offense, but your great-grandmother presides over a government that is running a Tempora program scooping up a lot of our emails and phone calls from the transatlantic fiber optic cables, and we’ve assigned 250 National Security Agency analysts to go through that material. I know that’s a lot of long words, but one day you’ll understand. The point is only that our government now is doing things to us with your government’s help that king George III wouldn’t have dreamed of, which wouldn’t even have been legal under the 18th century monarchy, whose courts afforded people more privacy than ours do now. So we now think that John Adams was a little crazy to be upset about a few police in people’s living rooms reading their mail without permission. You might as well read our mail as our hypocrite president, who had campaigned on restoring our privacy. All you’ll need is a password to the vast database. We think you should just invade our privacy all the time and be Our Majesty.

A lot of other things, like freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of peaceable assembly, which seemed like a good idea in 1789, now seem really dangerous to us and we’ve started to agree with King George III about the undesirability of those liberties. So we’re going to prosecute journalists for receiving classified information and publishing it, even if they weren’t the ones who took it from the government. And we’re going to chase whistleblowers around the world and charge them with espionage even though they only revealed their information to the American people. So that pretty much wraps up freedom of speech and the press. We don’t allow freedom of assembly any more. We’ve privatized all the places you could have a public protest, so all protests are actually a form of trespassing. If anyone tries to organize protests, even on behalf of clean water and air, we’ll have the FBI visit them. And we’ll tap their phone. So the way your ancestor King George III did things is just fine with us now. In fact, we think he was kind of a wuss and are hoping you’ll take a firmer hand.

Our foolish forebears minded the torture and cruel and unusual punishments imposed by King George III. But we have gone back to torturing people (though we do it at black sites). We also execute people via drone without due process. We hold people without charge or trial at Guantanamo and force-feed them. We put Bradley Manning in solitary for a year, kept him naked and chained, and woke him up several times a night for months in a row. Your royal ancestors knew all about isolating people in Towers or using sleep deprivation tactics, so you’ll one day understand what I’m saying here.

I could go on and on about how misguided that whole 1776 thing was, and how we’ve now given up almost everything it was originally about. We really were mean to your great great etc. grandfather. We didn’t understand that he did what he did to keep us and the empire safe. The empire, as you’ll one day understand, always comes first.

So, you know, take your time. You’ll want to be able to walk and say a few words. Get potty-trained ( though that isn’t really a prerequisite for our politicians). But as soon as you can, we’d like you to become monarch of the United Kingdom of the American States and rule us as an absolute monarch. You won’t understand yet, but there are also these black leather “toys” we’d like you to use on us, now that we’re so past those absurd “liberties.”

Besides, we’re the ones who are really excited by the royals, so why not just admit that we are not republicans any more?

Thanks for considering this modest proposal, royal baby. Welcome home.

30 Responses

  1. Well professor, we have the Royals and you have the likes of Obama, Clinton and Bush. At least our nominal heads of state, the Royals don’t do any harm. You might have been better remaining British although spying on the population was going on long before America was even invented, at least in its present incarnation. However, like you we are still cursed with the likes of Tony Blair Cameron and the Westminster joker, William Hague and just like your leaders they are some kind of anti Christ. Maybe they will call the new baby that no one really gives a damn about, DAMIEN !

    • Well being a part Irish and all American I can say that this display of fawning and egoistic pride about a baby born to an archaic belief system while so many starve around the world is utterly disgusting and quite representative of the primitive and idiotic ethos known as Monarchy.

  2. Wasn’t the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which attempted to restrict colonial expansion beyond the Appalachian Mountain a major cause of the Revolution? Being held back from all that tempting Indian land was just too much. Kind of hard to admit the slave owning land of liberty was really established so Indian land could be stolen.

    As a reluctant monarchist, I appreciate how a Head of State with no power and an appointed Prime Minister who can be discarded at any time is a better system than American’s devotion to your Imperial Presidents. I am asure the Poms could lend you a spare royal -they have a regular plague of them.

  3. Well, that about sums it up on the political side; nice work! How about the economics of United Kingdom of the American States’ “empire”? Surely the royal baby will need some tutoring on that subject to understand exactly who’s footing the royal bill.

  4. wow. should go viral. that’s some righteous anger there, juan. keep up the good work!

  5. Amazing. so far EVERY response has seemed to completely miss the point of this clever piece of satire.

  6. Oh Juan, Juan. Don’t be such a post 9/11 buzz kill. Don’t you know that the tea-partiers are at the helm to protect us from all of this? Defenders of the Second Amendment are on the job to ensure our precious liberties are in place so we can continue to rearrange the deck chairs on this Titanic of a planet that awaits either a deluge of environmental catastrophe or a general nuclear exchange over something really really stupid, all the while barraging us with infotainment and cliched half-baked solutions. Ugh!

  7. Nothing against the little guy, but his direct ancestors were leaders of kick-ass tribes that used to hunt people like us for sport. Seriously.
    Nearly all of us are descended from people who used to be his (extended) family’s property – at least that’s the way they saw it until we straightened them out.
    Worshipping the “royals” is like led-to-the-slaughter lambs venerating their executioners.
    I don’t get it, and never did.

    • In fact, it is usually forgotten that the Hanovers were constitutional monarchs, following in the footsteps of William of Orange. There was a Parliament, albeit one whose lower house only 1% of the male population was allowed to vote for, and whose upper house was appointed. Prime Ministers could come from either house, but they were the ones really in charge. Essentially Britain was openly ruled by its 1%, and some of them were a lot more tyrannical than poor crazy George III.

  8. And I was hoping the Americans would adopt the royal family as well :-)

    We are currently running a book in work on the baby’s name George is top of the list

  9. Professor Cole: Interesting and amusing. But a detail on the point of tea. His Late Majesty King George III was not endeavoring to tax tea solely in the American colonies, but throughout the Empire. By the end of the 18th century, the excise on tea represented a large proportion of the entire governmental budget. The excise, of course, encouraged smuggling, thus evading the payment due to the Exchequer. It is estimated that as much as 50 per cent. of the tea consumed in England at the time was probably smuggled into the country.

    Therefore, the American colonies were not being singled out to pay a “tax” that other colonies were free from, nor were the tea drinkers in England free from the same tax. Indeed, by the 1770s, huge quantities of tea were being drunk in the 13 colonies. The issue for those tea drinkers was more that of representation than taxation, even if many of them believed that only they were required to pay the excise on tea (all of which, incidentally, was grown and processed in China).

    • Yes but the colonists were not consulted about taxes, as residents of Great Britain were via the latter’s parliament.

      • Indeed. As I said “The issue for those [American colonists] was more that of representation [i.e. in Parliament, as Burke urged] than taxation”.

  10. Could the strength and durability of modern political hypocrisy possibly be traced to our freedom loving, slave owning Founding Fathers? Maybe their practice and tolerance of slavery is a more enduring aspect of their charm than their adversity to “taxation without representation”.

    As for the royal tot, I wish he could just be known as “King” rather than some trivial given name. Even if he never becomes a king, the instant super-celebrity status will take our mind off the bad stuff.

  11. You know you hit a sore spot in the US when Reddit’s POLITICS moderators censor this piece out as not being US politics.

    Or perhaps Reddit’s POLITICS, through its moderators, just chooses to remain an annoying mediocrity.

    link to buzzfeed.com

  12. Great!

    I don’t always agree with you about the ME Dr. Cole but this is very close to my heart. Thank you heartily.

  13. No, Neshore, you don’t understand. If I know Juan Cole I’ll bet he could not resist a way of getting his digs in on the evils of the reactionaries and conservatives and capitalist exploiters but delivers it within a satire facade. You know what I mean. It’s like the gunslinger who says: “Smile when you say that, Brother” and you better show a smile even if forced if you know what’s good for you.

    But he does it exceedingly well. That’s an art!

  14. I don’t know what makes you think he will have you. The royals have this one figured out; my money is on some Playboying, and maybe some heroing, shooting peasants in third world countries. Would you want to deal with crusty old dinosaurs windup by aipac and Wall Street.

  15. Actually I may be in favour of the Monarchy as long as we can execute some of them from time to time. Monarchy should always remember the ancient Shakespearian Aphorism “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”.

  16. As an Englishman living in the US, and having my eyes and ears violated by a constant stream of royal inanity. I’m surprised that the people of this great country, have taken away an essential freedom from me, ( I think it’s in the Bill of Rights) the right to change TV channels without duress. I truly believe that more Americans are into matters of British Monarchy and love the Pomp and Circumstance surrounding it than most UK citizens – maybe that’s because they don’t have to pay for it. Oh, and by the way for those gamblers betting on the soon to be announced royal name, I believe it is being named after its grandfathers – Charles and Hewitt – so my bet’s on Chewit!!

  17. “All of these individuals pay Federal social security taxes if they work (and they all do at some point in their lives), which go into the general budget.” -J. Cole

    It’s a small point, but it needs correcting. Social Security’s finances are “off budget” and legally separate from the rest of government spending which is considered “on budget.” The Social Security program is financed by a designated FICA tax of 6.2% per employee and employer. Yes, I’m aware that the lost revenue from the payroll (FICA) tax cut that just expired was reimbursed from general revenues.

    There is something called the “unified budget,” which was started during the Johnson administration to hide the costs of the Vietnam war and make total deficits appear smaller. It’s the sum of the “off budget” surplus and the “on budget” deficit.

    Social Security ran a surplus from 1985 until the present. The program must lend its “off budget” surpluses to the Federal government if the latter runs “on budget” deficits, which it has for the last approximately 53 years, save two surplus years at the end of the Clinton administration. If the Federal government didn’t borrow from Social Security it would have to borrow from some other entity, e.g., the Chinese or Japanese. The Special Issue bonds that Social Security buys while lending to the government comprise its Trust Fund which is now approximately $2.8T

    • Social security taxes are only notionally separate from the rest of government income. There is no set-aside escrow bank account for them.

  18. Sheer brilliance Juan. One of your best ever. Thank you for writing it. This should be required reading for all Americans.–An alum from UM(’81)

  19. Thank you so much for this piece Professor. It seems more and more that the political class of our country openly wants to abandon the principles of this country and instead emulate a modern version of the British Empire and I’ve tried to explain that to people to no avail because I just couldn’t quantify it as well, but your piece has captured it perfectly.

  20. Indeed, the American empire has exceeded the wildest dreams of many a prior potentate. And yet the effectiveness of this particular piece of satire relies on the veracity of the revolutionary principles it so cleverly invokes. And I’m afraid to say that I have grave doubts about the genuineness of the Spirit of ’76.

    One of the many conversations we Americans are not allowed to have is a critical reevaluation of the founding of our country. Critics like Charles Beard, for example, have long been ostracized. It is fairly clear that the Constitution of 1787 carefully and deliberately suppressed the tendency toward direct democracy that had been uncorked by the Revolution. Although the tensions between the Madisonian-Jeffersonian version of republicanism and Hamilton’s plutocracy were genuine, there can be little doubt that the framing was profoundly elitist, locating power firmly in the hands of the propertied class.

    Thus, the current state of affairs can be seen as a logical extension of the framework imposed (and I use that word consciously and accurately) on us in 1787. Decrying the death of revolutionary principles today is a little too late; they died a long time ago – and at the hands of many of the same men by whom they were first espoused. Whether those principles were sincere or merely the political propaganda of the day is another conversation we’ve never really had; either way, America’s “national narrative” has been ringing hollow through many generations of undeserving leaders on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

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