Will Unwound #847: “An 18th Century Republic and a Medieval Monarchy”October 1, 2013
There was an interesting juxtaposition of two news stories this morning: 1) many functions of the United States government have been shut down because of congressional deadlock and 2) Pope Francis has convened a committee of Cardinals to reform the Vatican, which he referred to as a “leprosy.”
Essentially, what we have here are two dysfunctional systems of government. The first is an eighteenth century republic in which power has been fragmented horizontally (executive, judicial, legislative) and vertically (federal, state, county, local). The second is a medieval monarchy with the Pope functioning as King and the College of Cardinals functioning as the nobility.
In the coming months it will be interesting to see which government makes the most progress in serving the needs of its constituents. Interestingly, the leaders of both governments have focused on health care for the needy. President Obama rightfully refuses to compromise on his groundbreaking affordable health plan, and Pope Francis in a widely publicized interview emphasized that he envisions the Catholic Church not as a moral police force but as a field hospital to treat the spiritually wounded.
Both leaders are battling aggressive conservative opposition. Obama’s critics call him a socialist, and Francis’ critics call him a naive idealist.
We live in interesting times.