America has simply replaced the pomp and ceremony of hereditary monarchy with the pomp and ceremony of elected monarchy.
An American Coronation, writes the Los Angeles Times, and who can disagree with them given the lavish preparations now underway in Washington. Words can be deceiving, but appearances generally are not.
It was a century ago when Theodore Roosevelt explained that an American President is "an elective King", making the implausible point that the United States was essentially a monarchical country within a republican framework. Contrast the power of His Mightiness with the limitations of our own Monarch, and you see increasingly the reverse in Commonwealth countries; that is, republican governments camouflaged within a monarchical framework, to the point where they effectively become "crowned republics" completely sapped of their royalist spirit.
As David Flint points out in President Obama: the elective King inaugurated, "The considerable British jurist, Lord Hailsham explained that the American system centres on ‘an elective monarchy with a king who rules with a splendid court and even...a royal family, but does not reign.’ He contrasted this with the Westminster system which he said involves ‘a republic with an hereditary life president, who being a queen, reigns but does not rule’."
But the important fact here is that both trends run contrary to the conservative impulse, as both are marked by a distinct lack of constitutional deference. American republicans are weary of their countrymen swooning over Princess Obama and becoming a monarchy in all but name, and Commonwealth monarchists are concerned about the increasing emasculation of their own constitutions, with the creeping regicide of Her Majesty.
The BBC's Katty Kay, for her part, is somewhat appalled at "the coronation of King Obama":
So this is why you booted us out a couple of centuries ago. You simply replaced the pomp and ceremony of hereditary monarchy and with the pomp and ceremony of elected monarchy. OK, you didn't opt for the dynastic duo of Bush and Clinton, which really had us scratching our crowned European heads, but the fanfare with which Caroline Kennedy has entered the political picture suggests your infatuation with royal families is still not over.Certainly it is no secret that the political ambition of the British Left is to abolish the British Monarchy, but how does one square that with the Kennedyesque tendency of the American Left to institute its own national dynasty? Probably because the Left wants untrammeled democracy, equality and "progress", and the Right wants limited democracy, liberty and constitutionalism.
This week Washington feels like London in the run up to one of our own grand royal events. Hostesses twitter on the phone, or just Twitter, to woo A-list guests to pre- and post-inauguration parties. A-list guests measure their piles of invites in feet, not inches...
Still, there is a more serious problem with treating Barack Obama as an elected monarch; one that affects us journalists, in particular. Put a man on a pedestal and suddenly it's hard for the press to drag him through the political wringer. It happened in 2003 in the run up to the invasion of Iraq and risks happening again.
In Britain, we invest the Queen with our ceremonial hopes which leaves us free to treat our prime minister as exactly what he is—an elected official, paid for by the taxpayers, and serving at the people's will. While George W. Bush was being asked patsy questions by a subdued White House press corps, Tony Blair was being drubbed by un-cowed political hacks. It is far easier to do when you don't stand the moment the man walks into the room.
That is why an elective monarchy is intuitively fine for an American Democrat, whereas hereditary monarchy is an insufferable anachronism for the British, Canadian and Anzac lib-laboury. What right does a hereditary monarch have to say no to an elected government, they chime.
And there is reason to believe that this contradiction at the heart of the American soul, which has in recent years led several congressman, including Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Harry Reid, to introduce legislation to repeal the Twenty-second Amendment, may continue to evolve towards monarchy USA. In each of 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009, Rep. Jose Serrano introduced a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd Amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as president. Each resolution, with the exception of the current one, died without ever getting past the committee.
But with Congress going formidably Democrat, and President Obama assuming Office, one has to believe they now have a fighting chance.