"There is one thing higher than Royalty: and that is religion, which causes us to leave the world, and seek God." --Elizabeth I (King Henry VIII's daughter with Anne Boelyn)
Recently, I discovered Netflix.
And it makes my heart happy. Very, Very happy.
A couple of weeks ago, as I was browsing the awesomeness that is Netflix, I stumbled across a Showtime series called, "The Tudors".
The enjoyment I feel related to this, at times, very risque television series is almost embarrassing. If you have ever watched it, you know exactly what I am talking about. Think Charles Brandon and the Duke of Buckingham's daughter being interrupted by her father while they, hmmmm....were getting to know each other.
Seriously, some of the scenes make me blush fifty shades of red.
But other portions of the story are much less physical and much more historical. For instance, the accuracy of Henry VIII's reign, the romantic ideals of royalty, nobility, servants, the notion of upward mobility through marriage, the hypocrisy of male promiscuity and required female virtue, the preference of male heirs, the religious upheaval of Martin Luther and the Reformation, the barbaric forms of punishment and death, the politics of a royal Court and the treason involved in self-preservation.
And while I enjoy the magnificent costumes (a part of me wishes I had cause to wear those sorts of dresses and jewels) and the dancing and well-written English sonnets, I am most intrigued by the last mentioned aspects of the drama's story line.
The politics of Court and the treason involved in self-preservation.
Oh, sweet politics.
Now, listen. I know many of you don't relish the political process like I do. I have confessed on multiple occasions that my preoccupation with politics is, well, abnormal.
However, this cut-throat process is vital and necessary. James Madison, one of my most favorite founding heroes and the ingenious author of the Federalists Papers said, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."
And like it or not, interested or not so much, government, whether democratic or monarchical, requires the messy, complex game of politics.
In the series,"The Tudors", King Henry VIII enjoys the company and guidance of many advisers. Some of the men tasked with serving in the King's Court do so because of their rank and birth. However, one of the critiques of Henry's reign was that he brought men into his council from common or "low" birth.
Many of the men who served at the King's pleasure, initially accepted their positions and posts with great humility. They loved England, they loved the Pope, they loved their King.
But as time passed and they became entrenched in the politics and pensions associated with Court service, they began to lose sight. They became accustomed to power and neglected their charges. Many of them, not all, but many, developed a narcissistic selfishness. They began to promote their own agendas at the expense of England's and the King's. Many of these men, whether of noble blood or common, eventually used their power and their positions to bribe, cheat, kill, etc. Even the pure-hearted Catholic bishop, Thomas More, who educated and faithfully served King Henry for many years, and who was one of the few men who truly loved his own wife and children, even he with his tremendous piety, eventually lost his way. He murdered in the name of God, the Pope and Catholicism.
He lost his way and his head. Literally.
The women, whether legally wives or accepted mistresses, restrained by the era and sexist social constraints, couldn't be blatant about their goals or ambitions. But rest assured they had their ways. After all, a man maybe the head of a country, state, home and family; but his wife (and sometimes his mistress) is the neck. And ladies, we turn those male heads the direction we desire they go.
Now, yes, some of the women did in fact loss their heads at the neck. Again, literally. Which was terribly unfortunate. Well, terribly unfortunate in most cases.
And as I watched this historical drama, I couldn't help but see a resemblance to modern day Washington DC. I couldn't help but feel as though there are so many good and decent men and women who enter the realm of politics and service to this nation with the very best of intentions and then, over time, their motivations change. It becomes much less about the greater good and the welfare of their constituents, and much more about their personal survival and their ever-approaching re-election.
I understand compromise and negotiation.
But I don't understand cowardice, deceit, lies and completely losing oneself in the name of power.
King Henry called the men (and women) who fell from his royal graces traitors.
In our modern day, I think it is safe but unpopular to say, that we, Americans, also have traitors among us. Well-spoken, well-funded, dangerously popular traitors. We have elected and continue to elect individuals who are guilty of betraying our trust and using their power and position to further themselves.
Obviously, we are not able to burn, behead, disembowel or draw and quarter this modern generation of national traitors. But we can end them. We can politically end them.
And here's how:
We need term limits.
And these men and women who serve at our pleasure, yes, you read that correctly, they are OUR servants and serve at OUR pleasure, they should not have the good fortunate of being vested with a pension for life after one term. That law is a tremendous load of horse manure!!
In the United States Congress, as it did in King Henry's Court, the guarantee of lifetime pensions has created a sense of comfort and security. And let's just be honest, most of these elected officials in Washington DC are independently wealthy. They were able to forfeit real life and campaign for months at a time because they have personal or inherited wealth. And that's fine. I don't begrudge them. But I also don't feel as though the American tax payer should be forced to subsidize their wealth for the rest of their natural life.
They should serve for the sake of service. We are, after all, a very grateful nation.
And then there is the notion of political survival.
Oh, the overwhelming instinct to survive. Darwin called it "survival of the fittest", some refer to it as "fight or flight", whatever it is, there is something deep within humanity that beckons us to save ourselves and preserve our honor, dignity and station in life. Everything in us rejects the idea of pain, suffering, loss or demotion.
Many of us would go to any lengths to maintain our lives, our families and our wealth. We would claw, scratch, kick, punch, lie, cheat, manipulate, back stab, sell out, betray--anything that was necessary to save our own life and the lives of those we love.
But I think the same is true in matters that are non-life threatening. I think if we are truly honest with ourselves, even in instances where our names are merely threatened, our reputations questioned, our motives or our integrity attacked, many of us would react swiftly and severely.
And NOWHERE is this reactive trait of our human nature more evident than in politics.
We thirst for power. We hunger for fame and attention and praise and accolades. We love the spotlight. We measure our success by our level of authority, our wealth and our perceived prestige.
Now, obviously, this isn't true for everyone. There are those among us who are selfless and put no value in the things of this world.
But they are a blessed few.
I'll be the first to admit, that my truest nature, my core, isn't selfless. I would fight. I would battle the deadliest giant, face untold amounts of conflict and enemy to protect what is mine.
And many of our nation's leaders and the advisers that surround them, are advocating not for us and our best interests, but for them and their own.
We have been forgotten. We have been thrown to the wayside. They have, in many instances, sacrificed us, our children, our retirements, our national security, our energy independence, our country's future for the guarantee and preservation of their own power. They are much less concerned with our national well-being than they are with their personal, political legacy.
But here's the silver lining in this train-wreck-of-the-last-six-years: NONE OF THEM ARE ROYALTY. They don't rule us. They serve us. They are not anointed by God. They are elected by us. They are not immune to dissent and protest. They are Constitutionally accountable to us. Their word in not law. We have checks and balances. They are mere mortals. And we, believers, have a supernatural strength on our side.
So, no, we can't cut off their heads. Dang it. But, the good news is, they can't cut ours off either.
So, allow me if I may, to provide this warning to those who are consumed with obtaining and securing power for themselves. Many of those who enjoyed the good graces and enormous wealth of King Henry VIII ended up alone, imprisoned, headless and dead.
Their fall from power and prestige was far and painful.
I hope many of our nation's leaders are enjoying their moments of glory. For many of these modern traitors, this will be the most glorious time of their pathetic existence.