I watched my first presidential inauguration back in the 90’s (I was doing politics A level and choose the US political system option), and then and every time I have watched one since I am amazed by how moved I am by it (yes even when it was Bush).
It’s a powerful symbol of what is best about America.
People choosing who represents them. America chose to be represented by Barrack Obama, they feel that he represents the best of them.
That makes me hopeful.
But it also makes me jealous. I want a say in who represents me, I don’t want it to be the Queen and I certainly don’t want it to be Prince Charles. (I also want to live in a country where the Church and State are separate and religious schools aren’t funded by the State but that’s another argument).
In the UK, we are subjects to the Queen. You can argue that these are only a form of words and aren’t really true anymore. I disagree. I think the form of things is powerful and we absorb the form of things.
I’ve been reading about the English Civil War, where the idea of religious freedom, led to the ideas of the Levellers and was struck again by the power of Thomas Rainsborough’s statement in the Putney Debates in 1647
“For really I think that the poorest he that is in England have a life to live, as the greatest he: and therefore truly, sir, I think it’s clear, that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government.”
In the UK, the people exercise the right to vote and the Queen then invites the leader of the party with the most seats in the Commons to form a government. The government of the UK is Her Majesty’s, not the people’s. The armed forces are HRM not the people’s.
Can you truly believe in equality when the role of the Head of State is decided by if you were related to the last one?
I don’t think you can.