Where in the World is Vladimir Putin?
Vladimir Putin has been removed in a coup. Vladimir Putin has had a stroke. Vladimir Putin is in Switzerland witnessing the birth of his love child with a former Olympic gymnast. Which of the aforementioned rumors are true? All of them? None of them? No one seems to know. What is certain is that Vladimir Putin has been incognito for the last few days, and everyone has been waiting with baited breath to discover what is the meaning behind this. Is this the unsettling beginning of a new round of turmoil in Eastern Europe, or something is innocuous as President Vladimir getting a case of the flu.
Before going further I would like to qualify that I am not really in the pro-Putin or anti-Putin camp, unlike most people who seem to either see him as the Second Coming or the Anti-Christ. I am unhappy about his actions in the Ukraine (and even more displeased by the tepid response to it we have seen from President Obama), but Putin is far from the new Adolf Hitler that many of his critics frame him as. Similarly, while I can hardly fault his championship of the traditional family and efforts to bring Russia back from the brink of demographic disaster, the fact remains he is still the illegitimate president of an illegitimate republic who has shown no inclination or ambition to restore Russia to its true rightful rulers. Putin can restrict abortion and attend Orthodox mass all he wants, it doesn’t change the fact that Russia will never truly be set right until a Romanoff is once again on the throne, and if you oppose that (as Putin appears to) you are part of the problem.
With that out of the way, what the chattering and worrying of the last few days has demonstrated is the inherent fragility and danger of any system that relies on one man, cult of personalities to grant legitimacy to governance. The world waits with baited breath to discover what has happened to Vladimir Putin, because the stability of a nuclear power hangs in the balance (advocates of appeasement towards Iran should take note of this, I might add). Scenarios such as this, in the worst of cases, have the potential to go very bad, very fast.
In contrast should Queen Elizabeth drop dead tonight (as much as I pray that this will not happen), the effect it would have upon Canada, or any of her dominions, would be minor. We would wake up tomorrow with King Charles III upon the throne, and the worst that can be said about that is that we would have a head of state with some eccentricities that also had a bad first marriage. Oh, and we would need to print some new post stamps and twenty dollar bills. Big deal, move on.
And for those argue I am making an unfair comparison, I suggest we shift from Russia to our neighbor to the south. Were Barack Obama to be struck by lightning on the golf course (can he be found anywhere else these days) the world would wake up tomorrow to President Joe Biden! Should my lefty friends be unalarmed by that I merely suggest they consider the same scenario occurring under the previous administration. Does the phrase President Dick Cheney not turn every social justice advocate’s heart to ice.
The key point to be driven home here is that Monarchy above all else is a system that promises continuity, which in our change-driven world is a rarity to find these days. The Crown is an institution that happens to be inhabited by individuals. In contrast, all other forms of government are about individuals who happen to inhabit institutions. In fact, under any republic continuity is the last thing any leader wants. A president doesn’t want to plan for what comes after him, he doesn’t want that thought to even enter anyone’s mind lest it become reality in the next election. The vast expanse of time becomes shrunken down to tiny four or five year chucks between writ periods. Everything else ceases to matter.
This living covenant embodied in the institution of Monarchy is a guarantee to every single subject of the Queen that there always will be continuity. We will never have to wait with baited breath, analyzing every rumor about how Queen Elizabeth has been seen here or is actually off over there. That is the essence of what a British democracy is, and that is the birthright it has given the people of the Anglosphere for the centuries that it has existed for.