by Mowahid H. Shah
In Pakistan, during a national election campaign several years ago, this
scribe attempted to define the tussle there as democracy versus dynasty. The
echoes of that were evident in the Middle East during King Hussein's funeral in
February 1999 when sons of Assad of Syria and Hasan of Morocco, along with
others similarly placed, were seen as visibly deputizing for their fathers.
Now, in Washington, too, the wheels of inherited privilege have swung full
circle. Election 2000 matches the son of Senator Albert Gore, Sr. (who died
last year at age 90 and served in Congress for 32 years) with the son of
President George Bush, who in turn was the son of the late Senator Prescott
Bush. The two prominent women in the race are equally family-bound. Liz Dole,
a Presidential candidate, is the spouse of failed Presidential candidate Robert
Dole, while Hillary Clinton is eyeing a run for the Senate from New York,
possibly a prelude to a shot at the Presidency in 2004. Lineage and matrimony
are the common denominators of all the above. In other words, their placement
and presence on the national stage is entirely derivative.
Institutionally, America has long been a two-party fiefdom. Now, at the
top, it is beginning to resemble a family circle.
This pre-fixed menu, in effect, represents a false sense of choice for the
voters. It is rubber-stamped at the ballot box and presented as the peoplesí
choice. No wonder there is major voter disillusionment and a chronically low
At the top, it is becoming more and more exclusionary. For 2000,
political power is being recycled between the Bush, Dole, Clinton, and Gore
families. So you get change without change.
This dynastic concentration of power is against the spirit of the founding
fathers of America who consciously rejected European nobility, royalty, and
titles. If only a few families are going to take turns ruling America, then it
is not good news for those without the proper genes or means.
[Mowahid H. Shah is a member of the District of Columbia bar, and former law
partner of Sen. Abourezk]
Copyright © 1999 Mowahid H. Shah - All Rights Reserved