NR Digital

Happy Warrior

The Perennial Revolution

by Mark Steyn

Monarchy is the natural order of things, which is why, as Ben Franklin grasped, the tricky bit about a republic is keeping it. Franklin didn’t live to see how that panned out. He died in 1790, a year after the first inauguration, back when John Adams was proposing that George Washington be addressed as “Your Most Benign Highness.” Instead, America gave a word to the world — the now-standard designation for a non-monarchical head of state: “President.”

Many presidencies are monarchical in all but name — Putin is known to his subjects as “Tsar,” and Mubarak was “Pharaoh” — and some are even hereditary — the Kims in North Korea, the Assads in Syria. For those citizens looking for a lighter touch from their rulers, there are Europe’s non-executive presidents — the heads of state of Austria, Germany, Portugal, Italy that nobody beyond the borders can name but that seem to suit post-imperial powers in search of a quiet life: A republic is the phase that comes after dreams of national greatness have flown and the world stage has been abandoned to others.

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