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POLITICS: Campaigns

It's a Dingell-ocracy, and we're just living in it

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Philip Klein,Hillary Clinton,2014 Elections,Rand Paul,Campaigns,Jeb Bush,Andrew Cuomo,John Dingell,Debbie Dingell

Back in February, when Washington was toasting Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., for holding a seat for nearly 60 years that he effectively inherited from his father, I wrote that the dynastic tendency in American politics was nothing to celebrate.

On Tuesday, the absurdity continued as his wife Debbie Dingell won the Democratic primary to replace him — all but guaranteeing she'll be the next representative from the heavily-Democratic district.

A Dingell has held this Congressional seat since 1933 — a year when Franklin Roosevelt took office as president; Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were still in the Yankees' lineup; the Marx Brothers' "Duck Soup" and the original "King Kong" were in theaters; and when a movie ticket cost a quarter.

Nobody could make a serious case that a former lobbyist named Debbie Smith would have cruised to victory in this Congressional race, but slap on the Dingell last name, and suddenly, she's golden.

It would be one thing if this were a limited example.

But a quick look at the 2016 presidential field also raises such questions. Hillary Clinton, who built her political career on the back of her husband's, is the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic nomination. If she doesn't run, one of the other potential candidates is New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is holding an office once held by his father.

On the Republican side, after already electing two Bushes, many people assume that if former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush decided to run, he'd instantly be considered a frontrunner for the GOP nomination. In the meantime, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who has relied on his father's political network, is considered a leading GOP candidate.

As I've previously noted, for a nation that was born in a revolution against a monarchy, Americans seem to have an unhealthy obsession with political dynasties.

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Author:

Philip Klein

Commentary Editor
The Washington Examiner

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