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French Monarchist Lessons For A Broken American Democracy

At a demonstration of yellow vests on the Champs-Elysees
At a demonstration of yellow vests on the Champs-Elysees
Rozena Crossman


PARIS —The rendez-vous was for last January 21, on the anniversary of Louis XVI's death. A friend had tipped me off that hundreds of French citizens gather each year in Paris to honor their last king and lament their fallen monarchy. Les Royalistes held mass for Louis and Marie-Antoinette, followed by pro-monarchy street protests. I watched as they brandished fire torches along rue de Rivoli, shouted "long live the king!" behind Notre Dame and kneeled at the tombs of the royal family.

But when I look back on my conversations with these avid monarchists, what strikes me now wasn't that their movement was still alive — but how pertinent it is to current events. Part of the reason the Royalists fascinated me is because what is happening back home in my own native land, a younger country that has only ever been a republic. This minority French worldview seemed quaint, archaic and a bit exotic. Yet as I sent in my absentee ballot for the upcoming U.S. election, their arguments kept nagging at me.

One proud Royalist and member of the populist Yellow Vest movement insisted that social harmony was best achieved with an uncontested, continuous form of leadership, by individuals surely trained (and bred?) for the work of politics, law and governance. It beats a system open to those with no political experience bound to wind up pandering to the public every few years to get re-elected. When I scoffed that a single sovereign ruler was a gateway to tyranny, he retorted that despots can crop up just as easily in democracies.

A Pro-Trump patriot march in Minnesota — Photo: Tim Evans/NurPhoto/ZUMA

The last time I exercised my right to vote, the United States elected a leader who had no qualifications for the job, no interest in the public interest and a taste (and skills) for pure demagoguery. It shouldn't surprise us that he is now insinuating that he may not peacefully transfer power. Donald Trump is every Royalist's "Exhibit A" for why democracy is ultimately better in theory than practice.

The Royalist point of view is a useful lens.

I now have real doubts that America can undo the damage Trump has sowed the past four years, both nationally and globally. From abroad, I can report the plummeting respect for the United States — once a bastion of democracy — internationally.

But if I was already worried our democratic institutions were broken, should we question whether democracy itself isn't all it's hyped up to be? Well, in a word: Non.

Trump may be a bad head of state but that's no reason to replace him with a king. Yet I do think the Royalist point of view is a useful lens through which we might measure every democracy. Even after the election, we should continue asking ourselves the questions raised by opponents of the system itself. How can we avoid leaders being so prone to populism? How can we ensure candidates are qualified? How can we protect smooth transitions of power? Maybe if I can convince the Royalists our democracy is worth saving, I'll be able to convince myself, too.

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Is Disney's "Wish" Spreading A Subtle Anti-Christian Message To Kids?

Disney's new movie "Wish" is being touted as a new children's blockbuster to celebrate the company's 100th anniversary. But some Christians may see the portrayal of the villain as God-like and turning wishes into prayers as the ultimate denial of the true message of Christmas.

photo of a kid running out of a church

For the Christmas holiday season?

Joseph Holmes

Christians have always had a love-hate relationship with Disney since I can remember. Growing up in the Christian culture of the 1990s and early 2000s, all the Christian parents I knew loved watching Disney movies with their kids – but have always had an uncomfortable relationship with some of its messages. It was due to the constant Disney tropes of “follow your heart philosophy” and “junior knows best” disdain for authority figures like parents that angered so many. Even so, most Christians felt the benefits had outweighed the costs.

That all seems to have changed as of late, with Disney being hit more and more by claims from conservatives (including Christian conservatives) that Disney is pushing more and more radical progressive social agendas, This has coincided with a steep drop at the box office for Disney.

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