Thursday, March 13, 2014

Political Office Should Not Be A Family Heirloom

The television program Dynasty was campy fun. Political dynasties may retain the element of camp, but it's not fun.

At the national level, I have no desire to see another Bush, Clinton, or Kennedy seek the presidency. The Herseths came a bit too close to a South Dakota dynasty for comfort, so I'm glad Brendan Johnson decided not to seek the Senate seat held by his father.

This comment from the pseudonymous Conservative at Dakota War College lists several legislative seats that seem to be family heirlooms passed around between the generations.:
It’s obviously time for the legislature/governor/people to come together and discuss what to do about finding a way to get a broader group of people to run for political office because it’s become easier to recruit two Hagger’s [sic], two Greenfields and two Novstrups in those districts than a single Democrat to run for office.
One could add that District 18 has a bipartisan Hunhoff dynasty.

Democrats may have trouble fielding candidates, but having one family dominate a legislative district is equally problematic.

I'm not sure a discussion led from the top by the governor or legislature will produce positive results. I'm also unsure if these mini-dynasties are an unintended result of term limits or if other states face a similar situation. I am rather certain that family dynasties create an echo chamber that will produce bad policy.

**Side note, the younger Hagger gets a favorable Bob Mercer blog headline this morning


P&R said...

Some districts, that's not entirely feasible.

At my first church (rural ND). In a county of around 4-5,000, the number of prominent families was extremely limited and the most prominent families had tended to intermarry. There were times when no matter which candidate you were voting for, you could claim they were part of the same family dynasty.

In the church I served it was even more restricted - half the families had the same last name and of those that didn't, either the wife or the mother-in-law had that as her maiden name.

Kal Lis said...

If that county is in Western ND, I probably grew up in a similar county.

I will note that the scions of some of the prominent families lacked the patriarchs'/matriarchs' wisdom and common sense. They often maintained their prominence by hiring the cousin once removed to manage the farm or business. Those more distant relatives also never get elected to leadership positions because they are in the wrong branch of the family tree.

In short, a county of 5000 should not have a legislative, county commission, or church leadership seat that is passed from parent to child.

P&R said...

Emmons County.

Parent-child, probably not. Parent generation (uncle/aunt) to child generation (nephew/niece) fairly common. At least, for commission or legislature. Church - depends on how big the church is (mine was fairly small).