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The End of Kings: A History of Republics and…

The End of Kings: A History of Republics and Republicans

by William R. Everdell

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Republicans, the Republic, and the Imperial Presidency


from Shandean Postscripts to Politics, Philosophy, Culture:

In The End of Kings: A History of Republics and Republicans, William R. Everdell points out the stark contrast between the reaction of Congress to Ronald Reagan's undermining of the Constitution through his funding of a "private" terrorist war in Central America (called "the Iran-Contra" scandal, though that is a misnomer) and the reaction to President Bill Clinton's lies about his own personal sexual affairs.

Twelve years after Iran-Contra, the issue of presidential power came up again, only this time Congress actually voted to impeach. This time the president was chief of the Democratic Party and the party of impeachment was the Republican, the party that had once endorsed Reagan. Small "r" republicans, one might think, should have been pleased at the Republican initiative, and the more republican they were, the less pleased one should have expected them to be that the impeachment process, which the Framers designed to check monarchical tendencies in the executive branch, had not proceeded all the way to conviction by the Senate. In the main, however, republicans disageed with Republicans . . .

Why was this so? Was it because the impeachment of William Clinton turned out badly, like that of Andrew Johnson in 1868 thus tarnishing the impeachment tool? This theory is unlikely is unlikely because the Senate's failure to convict Johnson did not, in fact, prevent impeachment from "working." Its effect was to cast an impeachment shadow over every subsequent presidency, and not until Grover Cleveland did a president indulge in the kind of unilateral action that had been characteristic of Lincoln and [Andrew] Johnson.

Everdell then points out reasons why other presidents should have been impeached but weren't. Lying, obstruction of justice, and aggrandisement of executive power are grounds for impeachment if the idea of the Republican form of goverrnment has any meaning. Going to war by executive order is grounds for impeachment if you adhere to the ideology of republicanism. There are very few republicans left in the commanding heights of the Republic. For republicans executive power is suspicious by its nature. In this light one might ponder the non-existence of republicanism in the Republican party. For a conservative republican the idea of the Imperial Presidency should be considered an abomination. By any definitiion, there have been very few leaders of the Republican Party since Thaddeus Stevens who have actually been republicans, and there have been very few leaders of the Republican Party since Robert Taft who have even tried to be conservative republicans. The name of "The Republican Party" has become like one of those real estate developments or geriatric care cente ( )
1 vote JerryMonaco | Mar 1, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0226224821, Paperback)

Written in clear, lively prose, The End of Kings traces the history of republican governments and the key figures that are united by the simple republican maxim: No man shall rule alone. Breathtaking in its scope, Everdell's book moves from the Hebrew Bible, Solon's Athens and Brutus's Rome to the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson and the Watergate proceedings during which Nixon resigned. Along the way, he carefully builds a definition of "republic" which distinguishes democratic republics from aristocratic ones for both history and political science. In a new foreword, Everdell addresses the impeachment trial of President Clinton and argues that impeachment was never meant to punish private crimes. Ultimately, Everdell's brilliant analysis helps us understand how examining the past can shed light on the present.

"[An] energetic, aphoristic, wide-ranging book."—Marcus Cunliffe, Washington Post Book World

"Ambitious in conception and presented in a clear and sprightly prose. . . . [This] excellent study . . . is the best statement of the republican faith since Alphonse Aulard's essays almost a century ago." —Choice

"A book which ought to be in the hand of every American who agrees with Benjamin Franklin that the Founding Fathers gave us a Republic and hoped that we would be able to keep it."-Sam J. Ervin, Jr.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:55 -0400)

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