Happy New Year everyone, and I hope yours was as pleasingly bibulous as mine was. But with 2011 under way I thought it might be time to find some half baked opinion and air it here rather than continue my impertinent recent habit of posting old art
icles from ages ago that were too fatuous to have found publication elsewhere. I believe I only have one such left to offer so I must rely once again upon my ability to think up new nonsense.
And speaking of nonsense, I notice in this morning’s NZ Herald a poll trying once again to dredge up the whole tedious ‘Should New Zealand Become A Republic?’ question for the umpteenth time. The answer seemed to be that about ten percent more respondents seemed to think this unwise, which is a relief. Now of course some of those in favour of retaining this country’s ties to the British Monarchy are deeply weird and creepy people. Others may simply be…well, simple. But I feel confident in assuming that most are merely sensible enough to realise that of all the choices and questions facing us in this happy country, this particular one is among the least important at this stage. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and all that kind of thing.
Because I have heard the opinions of many folks over the years keen to see us become a republic but have yet to hear a single argument that was convincing. Indeed, most were amazingly dull, predictable and above all, arse-numbingly boring. Let’s run through them just to remind ourselves eh?
All those palaces and nice outfits. It’s just not fair! Oh right, and presidents are famous for living in small bungalows, dressing themselves from charity shops and going to work by bus.
Monarchies are ‘old fashioned’.
Sorry, most first world monarchies are a fairly new invention. Republics on the other hand date back to the days of ancient Greece and you don’t get a whole lot more old fashioned than that.
The House of Windsor is a bit embarrassing.
OK, there is a grain of truth in this. I admit I wouldn’t want to spend much time in conversation with the man due to be George the 7th sometime in the next decade or so. He’s a boring old fellow, but then so were many of his predecessors and they all managed to do all right.
Why are we being run by a country on the other side of the world?
We are not. We run our own stuff while getting practically free use of someone else’s head of state for all pageantry related issues. Solid bloody bargain as far as I can see.
We should be a republic because we just SHOULD!
No, sorry, you can’t it’s just too bloody BORING. Republics require too much of the serious stuff that we already have way too much of.
Besides, to hear some republicans holding forth you’d get the impression that our monarchy is the only one left. Yet a glance around the world shows numerous countries which are flourishing under well run monarchies. These are countries that people are queuing desperately to emigrate to not leave. There’s Japan, Norway, Holland, Denmark, Luxembourg and Belgium, all of which are great places to live.
(And I won’t hear any snide comments about Belgium thank you very much. The people are friendly, the food is outstanding and they have monks who brew beer. And I bet most of you who sneer at the place have never even been there.)
Then let’s not forget Spain. Spain was western Europe’s last genuine fascist country until thirty five years ago when they did the sensible thing and reinstated their King. The sudden reduction in arrests and murders by state security organisations proved hugely popular and Spain is now a splendid country in which to spend time.
Top that list off with new Zealand, Australia and Canada and you have as fine a selection of viable and successful countries as anyone could wish for.
These days I can only think of three republics that I’d want to visit or take up residency in. There’s Ireland obviously, Germany (One of my favourite places) and France (‘Come for the astonishing rudeness, stay for the excellent food’). Don’t forget that all three of these countries built their republics from bloodshed and assorted historical nastiness, overcoming the inherent disadvantages of republican government to become success stories.
Which brings us to the most famous republic of them all, America. When the Declaration of Independence was written and applied, there was talk of a monarchy being established. Yet the Founding Fathers were, by and large, too self effacing and modest to carry that one through. (And besides, the French would have taken the piss) So they went with the republican model and gave that a go. Now of course this worked fine for the best part of two hundred years. But then the rot set in to the point where most informed folks admit that America’s political system is irreparably buggered.
Or ‘Substantially non-viable at this time’ as they’d probably say over there. America’s politicians have never been so unpopular and with good reason. Each successive election seems to further entrench the idea that fifty one percent of the population is the most that you can ever make happy at ant one time, while Congress and the Senate bog themselves further and further into frustrated impotency.
Things are now so hopeless for the poor old Americans that they face the possibility of the Union breaking up with various states attempting to form their own countries. Yet if the idea of America is worth preserving, (And I for one think it is) then maybe what they need to consider is becoming a MONARCHY. Sounds silly right? But why? They would love it! Can you think of a nation as unselfconsciously patriotic? Americans are pretty much the only people for whom patriotism is a real concept outside of sporting events. They salute their flag, get genuinely emotional over their constitution and turn out in droves for the inauguration of Presidents. If ever a nation deserved a shot at having a brand spanking new monarchy it’s America.
After all, it is all very well having huge limousines and motorcades to cheer, but what happens when said limo arrives? The door opens and out gets some dull bloke in a suit who is only there for a maximum eight years before being replaced by someone they will respect even less.
But simply exchange the President for a King and the game changes entirely. Suddenly America would be happy and back on track. They’d get titles, knighthoods and fancy costumes. Ridiculous hats with feathers. Glorious pageantry and heraldic frippery. We all know Americans crave this stuff and the lack of it in their lives has driven them to the miserable state in which they now languish. What could be simpler to fix?
All of which brings me back to the poll in this morning’s paper. Why offer us just the two options; status quo or republic? I’d rather have voted for a third option; How about we get our OWN monarchy? I don’t much care for our current one, yet I’m equally unready for the baleful glowering of President Clarke or the smarmy unctuousness of President Key.
Give me New Zealand’s own king or queen. Who would we chose? Well, that’s the delightful thing about the system, it doesn’t greatly matter! As long as they look good in a silly outfit, wave nicely when told to and refrain from meddling in politics then anyone would do. Though someone of limited intelligence would be preferable. The hideous rise of so called reality TV has amply demonstrated that such people exist in abundance and are perfectly willing to sacrifice privacy and self respect for a shot at fame so let’s chose a royal family that way. The ‘Lucky’ family would then be set up in some ornate gilded cage and produced any time we feel like feeling good about ourselves.
Then all we have to do is draft up a simple constitution based on one central concept; ‘We do whatever we like and the Monarch lets us do it.’