Death of The Dynasty?

Submitted by ub on Mon, 02/01/2016 - 11:16

John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams, both served as president. So did William Henry Harrison and his grandson, Benjamin Harrison, and George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush.

US Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, who's up for re-election in November, is oldest political known member of dynasties in The US House of Representatives. His great-great-great-great-grandfather, Frederick Frelinghuysen, was a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1779 and served the US Senate from 1793 to 1796. We reached out to his press secretary for comment, but have not heard back from his office.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the daughter of Thomas D'Alesandro, who served as mayor of Baltimore and later as a congressman. Senators Jay Rockefeller and Edward Kennedy belonged to large political clans, and former Vice President Al Gore, who lost the presidential race to Bush in 2000, was the son of a U.S. senator.

Also, candidates who were once seeking the presidency included Mitt Romney, who was the son of a Michigan governor and Cabinet secretary who lost a bid for the presidency. And Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the wife of a former president, Bill Clinton, who is making her second end run for the nation's highest office.

The prominence of many dynastic politicians may make it seem like American politics is largely a family affair. But since the mid-1960s, only about 6 percent of lawmakers in Congress have been related to other members, which is about half the level of the early 1800s.

Political researchers found such links tended to be stronger in the House than in the Senate, and more prevalent in the South than other regions. Dynastic politics also appeared to thrive in places and times with less political competition.

But while being heir to a dynasty may give a candidate an edge when seeking election, it did not appear to guarantee continued success. Two of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt's sons, for example, were elected to the House of Representatives but were later defeated when they tried for higher office.

However, US politics has long considered the word "dynasty" as a dirty word. In fact, our Founding Fathers wholeheartedly objected to any power flowing through blood rather than ballot. They wrote in the U.S. Constitution that this nation constitutionally bans inherited power. "no title of nobility shall be granted by the United States," reads Article I, section 9 — and in a year when socialists and conservative movements are challenging the political establishment.

It took a short time for American politics to become another type of family business. Back in 1848, about 16 percent of congressional seats were filled by someone whose relative had previously held the position, according to research published by Gannett. Moreover, another study found that Congressional members who serve more than one term have a 40 percent chance of someone in their family later ending up in Congress, according to Reuters.

This does not necessarily mean that these family trees are full of rotten apples, but they may cultivate relationships and connections that can help siblings, cousins and in-laws win elections as with any successful business operation.

In today's political campaign, which includes a Bush, and a Clinton, family members of longtime US politicians were thought to have a better shot at winning elective office, but not necessarily so, if tonight's outcome indicates what pundits have been saying.

DOSE OF NEWS will provide the latest results of tonight's Iowa Caucus.