Boris, Donald, and Elizabeth

By Dr David Laing Dawson

We recently passed through an interesting social experiment from which we should learn.

Boris Johnson is a better educated, more articulate, smarter version of Donald Trump. Both men, to the surprise of many, managed, using the same populist tropes fashioned to rouse and focus the anger of their respective populations, to achieve the top political positions of their countries. Both “ruled” with flamboyance and flim flam. When Boris took one too many liberties with the truth his political career ended simply and quietly. There was no backlash, no outpouring of grief and anger, no seeking of revenge, no denials, no marching in the street, no violence, no groundswell of support and demand to reinstate Boris as Prime Minister.

On the other hand Donald Trump kept piling on the lies, the outrageous behaviour, the cons and grandiosity. He did lose the election for a second term but we all know what happened next.

We humans, many of us for sure, retain a trait that once provided genetic Darwinian survival value. Projection, identification, thoughtless loyalty, unquestioned fealty. Some commingling of our need for reassurance, a God, guidance, the embodiment of all we hope we are and could be, a protector, a symbol of unity, of past, present and future.

The people of the U.K. and the Commonwealth have the Crown for that, Her Majesty, and now His Majesty, a Royal Family. It is anachronistic, silly, fantasy and fairy tale stuff. But then so are we. The viewership of Game of Thrones rather exceeds that of Question Period in the House of Commons.

Because we have the Crown, our Head of State, our (actually powerless) symbol of all that we hope we are individually and collectively, Boris Johnson and Justin Trudeau are just politicians who have or had important jobs, who cannot get away with the outrageous behaviour of Kings and Potentates, and who can be removed from those jobs without much disruption at all. Without weeping and wailing and threat to democracy. Because we have a separate, symbolic Head of State, and a Royal Family, that provides, without threat to our democracy, sufficient fanfare, intrigue, scandal, and a few good deeds to keep us tuned in.

We need to keep the Crown.

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