The New York Daily News trumpeted a beguiling scenario of a #Chelsea Clinton vs. #caroline kennedy race for the United States Senate seat now held by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand should she decide to run for president in 2020. The idea of two great Democratic dynasties battling it out for a place on the greasy pole of politics is something that fascinates political pundits as well as some Democratic activists. Despite #Hillary Clinton’s spectacular defeat last year, the Clinton name still has some reverence in liberal circles. And the name of Kennedy is pure magic, eliciting as it does the lost glories of Camelot and a wistful regard for what might have been had Oswald missed. But a couple of problems occupy the path between now and this battle of the Democratic princesses.
Chelsea Clinton has denied any desire to run for the Senate. Kristen Gillibrand has eschewed a run for the presidency. To be fair, JFK’s daughter, fresh from being ambassador to Japan, is toying with the idea of elected office.
However, a more fundamental problem exists that bars the way to high office to these two scions of Democratic royalty. If election 2016 taught us anything is that the American people have become fed up with dynastic politics. Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida and the brother and son of American presidents, was thought to be a front-runner for the Republican nomination. He became an also-ran. Hillary Clinton ran, in part, on the idea of a restoration of the Clinton 1990s, an era of relative peace and prosperity. Both were beaten by an outsider on steroids, Donald Trump, who is now president of the United States, having humbled all the professional politicians into the dust.
Political elites of both parties are going to have to come to terms with the fact that our ancestors did not wage war to send the King of England packing only to nurture a royal class 240 years later. A politician’s last name will not be as important as what he or she can do for the people whose votes they ask for, which is how a republic is supposed to work.