THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views
Release Date: July 13, 1999
Mowahid H. Shah, Attorney at Law
c/o The Wisdom Fund, P. O. Box 2723, Arlington, VA 22202
Press Contact: Mowahid H. Shah

Democracy Versus Dynasty

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 voter turnout.

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
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