- Philip Crume
- Cleveland, OH
- United States
Two grand archetypes of democratic leadership
The foundation of modern democracy was poured in 1215 CE when the people of England took some power back from King John. They told him that he no longer held absolute rule, that he had to listen to the advice of a body of representatives who held the sole power to levy taxes, and that certain rights were to be recognized. The result was the Magna Carta and the birth of the English Parliament.
The Parliamentary monarchy enabled England to defend herself from multiple invasions and build an economy robust enough to send colonies to the New World. By 1649 King Charles I violated the Magna Carta in every form, even placing guards to prevent the convening of Parliament. The result the English Civil War, the king's execution, and the formation of the English Commonwealth.
The English Commonwealth was lead by Oliver Cromwell. However his behavior had become increasingly autocratic to the point where he was virtually indistinguishable from a king. He further soured relations with Parliament by entertaining the possibility of having hereditary rule. Although these were not the only reasons that led to his downfall, they greatly contributed to it. When he fell the English Commonwealth fell with him 11 years later.
About 130 years the American colonies became independent, modeled their government on a Parliamentary system, and their new leader George Washington, was thrust into the same role Cromwell faced. Using Cromwell as the antithesis to avoid, he modeled his behavior after the Roman general Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus, who after having supreme control gave up the reigns of power and returned to a private life.
The peaceful transition of power has enabled the US to maintain a continuous government for over 200 years. When we tie this to current events, we find that many political issues can be traced to contested transitions of power, and that in general two opposing archetypes emerge: Cromwell vs. Cincinnatus.
What are your thoughts and observations?