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Offline xasop

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Re: The Queen
« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2022, 08:44:46 PM »
I admit I do have my biases as an American.  However I'm not seeing how a monarchy factors into the UK's success as a democracy.  Their status as a democracy exists at the pleasure of the queen, now the king.  The legal constraints on the monarchy appear too weak to really stop them dissolving parliament and nullifying any rule of law at their whim.
If you read the law outside the context of the society in which it exists, that would be a perfectly reasonable interpretation. The fact is that any attempt by the monarch to impose their authority would be seen as hostile by the vast majority of the British population, and they would be faced with three options: back down and do nothing, try to seize only a little bit of power so that Parliament has enough time to pass legislation stripping it away, or start a civil war. None of them ends in the monarch actually ruling the UK.

Oh.  I was confused.  I wasn't aware that England voted to install Elizabeth as the queen.
Nor did the American people vote for John Roberts as chief justice of the Supreme Court, or Christopher A. Wray as director of the FBI. Are you asserting that every member of a government must be democratically elected in order for the government, as a whole, to function democratically?
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Offline J-Man

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Re: The Queen
« Reply #21 on: September 08, 2022, 08:47:12 PM »
My kinda Brits

What kind of person would devote endless hours posting scientific facts trying to correct the few retards who believe in the FE? I slay shitty little demons.

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Offline crutonius

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Re: The Queen
« Reply #22 on: September 08, 2022, 10:22:39 PM »
If you read the law outside the context of the society in which it exists, that would be a perfectly reasonable interpretation. The fact is that any attempt by the monarch to impose their authority would be seen as hostile by the vast majority of the British population, and they would be faced with three options: back down and do nothing, try to seize only a little bit of power so that Parliament has enough time to pass legislation stripping it away, or start a civil war. None of them ends in the monarch actually ruling the UK.

So it's a monarchy which tolerates a democracy in law and in practice we're assuming that if push comes to shove the citizens can overcome the military which is another power that the monarch has sole control over.

I'm not sure what the monarchy adds here.  It seems like the best case scenario is that they don't assert any power over their empire and basically function as the Kardashians.  Whereas the worst case scenario is much darker.

If instead of assuming the throne, if Charles just decided somehow that Elizabeth was the UK's last monarch do you think that would be a good thing or a bad thing?


Nor did the American people vote for John Roberts as chief justice of the Supreme Court, or Christopher A. Wray as director of the FBI. Are you asserting that every member of a government must be democratically elected in order for the government, as a whole, to function democratically?

Well not every member of the government.  But ideally at least the head of state.

Additionally this is not an accurate comparison.  We elect the people that appoint these positions. Sort of like how the people elect the members of parliament who in turn elect a prime minister.

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Offline xasop

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Re: The Queen
« Reply #23 on: September 08, 2022, 10:39:57 PM »
So it's a monarchy which tolerates a democracy in law and in practice we're assuming that if push comes to shove the citizens can overcome the military which is another power that the monarch has sole control over.
"Monarchy" and "democracy" are not antonynms. It's a (constitutional) monarchy and a democracy. Also, it is highly questionable whether the military would remain loyal to a rogue monarch. Historical precedent is against you.

I'm not sure what the monarchy adds here.  It seems like the best case scenario is that they don't assert any power over their empire and basically function as the Kardashians.  Whereas the worst case scenario is much darker.
That is because you are comparing having a monarch to simply not having a monarch, which makes no sense. You can't just remove a monarch from the system and leave everything else the same, because then you would have no head of state. You need a specific alternative for any meaningful comparison.

If you compare a constitutional monarchy to the most common democratic alternative, that being a presidential system, then meaningful statements can be made. For example, the US president is not accountable to Congress and routinely signs executive orders without needing the support of his party or the electorate. Is that what you mean by the "worst case scenario"?

If instead of assuming the throne, if Charles just decided somehow that Elizabeth was the UK's last monarch do you think that would be a good thing or a bad thing?
Again, your question is meaningless because you are asking if I think it would be good or bad if the current system was replaced with something completely undefined. Some alternatives might be better, and some would certainly be worse.

Well not every member of the government.  But ideally at least the head of state.
Why?

Additionally this is not an accurate comparison.  We elect the people that appoint these positions. Sort of like how the people elect the members of parliament who in turn elect a prime minister.
And the UK Parliament also chooses not to push legislation to abolish the monarchy, because it isn't getting in the way of democracy and there are far more important issues to be getting on with. So, that's alright then?
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Offline markjo

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Re: The Queen
« Reply #24 on: September 08, 2022, 10:48:01 PM »
The narrative that monarchs are undemocratic comes, quite frankly, from people who do not understand politics.

The existence of monarchs is undemocratic.
Not always.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elective_monarchy
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Offline BillO

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Re: The Queen
« Reply #25 on: September 08, 2022, 11:10:31 PM »
The Queen is dead.  Long live the King!
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Offline crutonius

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Re: The Queen
« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2022, 11:24:18 PM »
"Monarchy" and "democracy" are not antonynms. It's a (constitutional) monarchy and a democracy. Also, it is highly questionable whether the military would remain loyal to a rogue monarch. Historical precedent is against you.

So the law says the monarchy controls the military but we assume in a conflict between the people and the crown that the military will ignore the law and side with the people.

It seems to me that the system should be restructured so that the military is explicitly accountable to the people and not the crown as opposed to hoping they'll defy their oaths.

That is because you are comparing having a monarch to simply not having a monarch, which makes no sense. You can't just remove a monarch from the system and leave everything else the same, because then you would have no head of state. You need a specific alternative for any meaningful comparison.

If you compare a constitutional monarchy to the most common democratic alternative, that being a presidential system, then meaningful statements can be made. For example, the US president is not accountable to Congress and routinely signs executive orders without needing the support of his party or the electorate. Is that what you mean by the "worst case scenario"?


I think a better comparison would be Israel.  They have a parliamentary system but without a monarchy.  Would Israel be better off if they added a monarch into the mix?

Also a worst case scenario would be a monarch asserting their power in a tyranical way sort of like Mohammed bin Salman.

Again, your question is meaningless because you are asking if I think it would be good or bad if the current system was replaced with something completely undefined. Some alternatives might be better, and some would certainly be worse.


Let me ask this a different way.  If Queen Elizabeth had no defined powers over the UK would it have had any impact over her country?

Why?

So you can fire them if you're unhapppy with their choices.

And the UK Parliament also chooses not to push legislation to abolish the monarchy, because it isn't getting in the way of democracy and there are far more important issues to be getting on with. So, that's alright then?

Practically speaking I suppose.  The monarchy has had a very corgi focused agenda for quite some time.  What if that changes?  What then?

If the monarchy somehow took a tyrannical turn and parliament stripped it of any authority would you oppose this?  And to the same point, what does the UK stand to gain by preserving the power of the monarchy?

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Offline Fortuna

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Re: The Queen
« Reply #27 on: September 09, 2022, 06:31:19 AM »
She’ll be missed. Despite what I think of royalty in general and their uselessness in modern society, she’s always seemed like a pretty nice lady.

Culture is far more powerful than politics or laws.

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Offline xasop

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Re: The Queen
« Reply #28 on: September 09, 2022, 08:22:35 AM »
So the law says the monarchy controls the military but we assume in a conflict between the people and the crown that the military will ignore the law and side with the people.
Actually, we don't need to assume anything. We have centuries of the monarch just letting Parliament get on with governing the country without interference, because starting a civil war that you are likely to lose for no reason is an absolutely insane idea.

You have to understand that this hypothetical of yours is comparable to the POTUS trying to pass an executive order declaring himself emperor for life. It is such an astoundingly absurd thing to do that, were it to receive even a modicum of support from anyone with the power to enforce it, the result would be a completely new regime and existing laws would be irrelevant anyway.

It seems to me that the system should be restructured so that the military is explicitly accountable to the people and not the crown as opposed to hoping they'll defy their oaths.
The point of what I said isn't that the system ensures victory for parliamentarians in a civil war. It is that a civil war is so obviously undesirable to all involved that it wouldn't even be contemplated. You are proposing radical, untested alterations to a system that has been working well for centuries in order to deal with an apocalyptic hypothetical that is extremely unlikely to ever occur.

I think a better comparison would be Israel.  They have a parliamentary system but without a monarchy.  Would Israel be better off if they added a monarch into the mix?
Israel has a non-executive president, which is functionally equivalent to a monarch in a democracy, so it is likely that nothing would change in the short term. In the long term, a non-executive president is far more likely to become an executive president than a constitutional monarch is to become an absolute monarch, so all else being equal, Israel would probably be more stable with a monarch. But there are so many more important factors than this at play that it's simply not worth contemplating a change in either direction.

Also a worst case scenario would be a monarch asserting their power in a tyranical way sort of like Mohammed bin Salman.
Or Robert Mugabe?

Let me ask this a different way.  If Queen Elizabeth had no defined powers over the UK would it have had any impact over her country?
Yes, because the monarch exercising certain powers on the advice of the prime minister is an integral part of how the British political system works.

So you can fire them if you're unhapppy with their choices.
That is not an answer to the question I asked, given the context. We have just established that you don't think every member of a government needs to be democratically elected. What is it about a head of state that means that person specifically needs to be able to be fired by popular vote, while others don't?

Practically speaking I suppose.  The monarchy has had a very corgi focused agenda for quite some time.  What if that changes?  What then?
You could ask the same question about any political system. If any system changed to be less democratic, then it would become less democratic.

If the monarchy somehow took a tyrannical turn and parliament stripped it of any authority would you oppose this?
Of course not. If there is a problem to be solved, then we should solve the problem. My objection is to you claiming that we should solve a problem that doesn't exist.

And to the same point, what does the UK stand to gain by preserving the power of the monarchy?
The monarchy has very little power, in practical (as opposed to hypothetical) terms. The institution of the monarchy is an insurance policy against an executive presidency, which is demonstrably less democratic than a constitutional monarchy.
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Offline crutonius

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Re: The Queen
« Reply #29 on: September 09, 2022, 07:44:06 PM »
Actually, we don't need to assume anything. We have centuries of the monarch just letting Parliament get on with governing the country without interference, because starting a civil war that you are likely to lose for no reason is an absolutely insane idea.

You have to understand that this hypothetical of yours is comparable to the POTUS trying to pass an executive order declaring himself emperor for life. It is such an astoundingly absurd thing to do that, were it to receive even a modicum of support from anyone with the power to enforce it, the result would be a completely new regime and existing laws would be irrelevant anyway.

The point of what I said isn't that the system ensures victory for parliamentarians in a civil war. It is that a civil war is so obviously undesirable to all involved that it wouldn't even be contemplated. You are proposing radical, untested alterations to a system that has been working well for centuries in order to deal with an apocalyptic hypothetical that is extremely unlikely to ever occur.

It seems to me that the UK has had the good fortune of having a reasonable monarchy made up of reasonble people.  This is not the same thing as having a well designed government. The test of how well a government is designed is what happens when unreasonable people gain control. 

That is not an answer to the question I asked, given the context. We have just established that you don't think every member of a government needs to be democratically elected. What is it about a head of state that means that person specifically needs to be able to be fired by popular vote, while others don't?

We elect someone as the head state through a not so great electoral college process.  I believe it should be a direct vote but that's a discussion for a different time.  We also elect the legislative branch, mostly democratically some with caveats but that's also a discussion for another time.

So now we have a democratically elected government.  They need to appoint quite a subject matter experts to make this government function such as judges, cabinet members, heads of institutions etc.  These members of the government, while not directly elected, are accountable to the first two branches of the government which are.  If any of these appointed members does something the public finds egregious we can threaten the elected members of the government to remove them or we'll vote them out.  One only needs to look at the Trump presidency to see this system in action.

If the head of state was not accountable to the people in this country then our world would be very different today and probably not in a good way.

You could ask the same question about any political system. If any system changed to be less democratic, then it would become less democratic.

Fair point.
Yes, because the monarch exercising certain powers on the advice of the prime minister is an integral part of how the British political system works.

Do you mean ceremonial roles or actual decisions?  I only mean that question half rhetorically.  I can't actually find an article detailing any time that Queen Elizabeth intervened in government.

Of course not. If there is a problem to be solved, then we should solve the problem. My objection is to you claiming that we should solve a problem that doesn't exist.

I understand why it hasn't been fixed.  It takes expenditure of political capitol to change such things. 

The monarchy has very little power, in practical (as opposed to hypothetical) terms. The institution of the monarchy is an insurance policy against an executive presidency, which is demonstrably less democratic than a constitutional monarchy.

This is an interesting idea.  Is there some UK doctrine where this is stated explicitly or is this something that we hope they'll do in the event of a crisis?

Also, I have to say, if we're calling a president, who is elected, less democratic than a monarch who isn't then we're doing great violence to the English language.

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Offline xasop

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Re: The Queen
« Reply #30 on: September 09, 2022, 08:22:33 PM »
It seems to me that the UK has had the good fortune of having a reasonable monarchy made up of reasonble people.  This is not the same thing as having a well designed government. The test of how well a government is designed is what happens when unreasonable people gain control.
The UK is not the only democratic constitutional monarchy. There are six monarchies in the EU alone, and several more elsewhere in Europe. With the exception of the absolute monarchy of the Vatican, they all function along similar principles of limited power granted to the sovereign, whether through legislation or convention. It takes some mental gymnastics to suppose that they have all simply been fortunate for the past century or two.

If any of these appointed members does something the public finds egregious we can threaten the elected members of the government to remove them or we'll vote them out.  One only needs to look at the Trump presidency to see this system in action.
It takes 4 years to vote the POTUS out, during which time they can continue running the country with relatively few checks and balances. Meanwhile, if the King of the United Kingdom decided to try anything fishy today, you can bet that Parliament would be discussing how to put a stop to it tomorrow. Direct election is not the only possible means of accountability, nor is it a particularly efficient one.

If the head of state was not accountable to the people in this country then our world would be very different today and probably not in a good way.
That is because the head of state of the US has executive authority, whereas that of the UK does not (in practice). That has been my main point all along.

Do you mean ceremonial roles or actual decisions?  I only mean that question half rhetorically.  I can't actually find an article detailing any time that Queen Elizabeth intervened in government.
Dissolution of Parliament is a royal prerogative. When the Prime Minister decides it is time to hold an election, he or she advises the monarch of such, and the monarch dissolves the current Parliament so that a new one may be elected. I'm not saying this couldn't be done any other way, but it is the way it is done right now, so simply removing the monarch's power to dissolve Parliament would prevent the system from functioning.

Although I am not aware of this power ever being used against the PM's wishes in the UK, there was one case when the Prime Minister of Australia was dismissed by the Governor-General of Australia on Elizabeth II's authority. Although an exceptional event, this resolved a deadlock and enabled Australia to continue having a government at all in a time of crisis, so it is generally seen as a legitimate use of royal authority.

Of course not. If there is a problem to be solved, then we should solve the problem. My objection is to you claiming that we should solve a problem that doesn't exist.
I understand why it hasn't been fixed.  It takes expenditure of political capitol to change such things.
It's not a question of why it hasn't been fixed. I disagree that there is a problem to be fixed at all. The system merely works differently from the American system, and relies more on convention.

This is an interesting idea.  Is there some UK doctrine where this is stated explicitly or is this something that we hope they'll do in the event of a crisis?
This is my personal viewpoint, as someone who grew up in a country where Elizabeth II was head of state (but not the UK). Many others in the UK and elsewhere in the Commonwealth will have differing opinions, I'm sure.

It's not clear what you mean by "something that we hope they'll do". I didn't mention doing anything.

Also, I have to say, if we're calling a president, who is elected, less democratic than a monarch who isn't then we're doing great violence to the English language.
We are not talking about the same thing. You are talking about the monarch, I am talking about the monarchy. You are talking about an individual, I am talking about how the government functions as a whole. And yes, I do believe that a constitutional monarchy functions more democratically than an executive presidency.

Let me put it this way. In an executive presidency, you can have one individual who was elected by 51% of the population (or even less, with an electoral college) making decisions that affect everyone for years at a time with minimal checks and balances. In a properly functioning parliamentary system, you typically have a parliament composed of representatives of all viewpoints in society debating issues and coming to a collective decision. Democracy then happens daily in parliament, not once every 4 years. (The Parliament of the UK does not work in this way, but that is because of the substandard electoral system used and has nothing to do with the monarchy.)

If the cost of maintaining that representative democracy ­— in which competing interests talk to each other instead of one winning over the others for one 4-year term at a time — is that we have a single unelected individual serving in a ceremonial role, then that is a trade-off I am very happy to make.
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Re: The Queen
« Reply #31 on: September 09, 2022, 10:44:41 PM »
The UK is not the only democratic constitutional monarchy. There are six monarchies in the EU alone, and several more elsewhere in Europe. With the exception of the absolute monarchy of the Vatican, they all function along similar principles of limited power granted to the sovereign, whether through legislation or convention. It takes some mental gymnastics to suppose that they have all simply been fortunate for the past century or two.

i realize i am of course doing major mental gymnastics here (probably because i just don't understand politics on your level), but do you think it's possible that these constitutional monarchies all function along similar lines because they share a common cultural and developmental heritage? like maybe the fact that they are all european is not a complete coincidence? i could be wrong, but it just seems like they're all pretty closely related to one another in space and time, so maybe we should be cautious about overgeneralizing from what is clearly not any kind of random sample.

p.s. sorry in advance if my question is meaningless ;););) wink emoji
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Offline xasop

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Re: The Queen
« Reply #32 on: September 09, 2022, 11:15:52 PM »
i realize i am of course doing major mental gymnastics here (probably because i just don't understand politics on your level), but do you think it's possible that these constitutional monarchies all function along similar lines because they share a common cultural and developmental heritage? like maybe the fact that they are all european is not a complete coincidence? i could be wrong, but it just seems like they're all pretty closely related to one another in space and time, so maybe we should be cautious about overgeneralizing from what is clearly not any kind of random sample.
I'm not sure what point you think you're making. Like, yes, political culture is a very important part of any political system that relies heavily on convention? Did that need to be pointed out?
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Re: The Queen
« Reply #33 on: September 12, 2022, 02:26:21 PM »
i realize i am of course doing major mental gymnastics here (probably because i just don't understand politics on your level), but do you think it's possible that these constitutional monarchies all function along similar lines because they share a common cultural and developmental heritage? like maybe the fact that they are all european is not a complete coincidence? i could be wrong, but it just seems like they're all pretty closely related to one another in space and time, so maybe we should be cautious about overgeneralizing from what is clearly not any kind of random sample.
I'm not sure what point you think you're making. Like, yes, political culture is a very important part of any political system that relies heavily on convention? Did that need to be pointed out?

perhaps i am misunderstanding your point in general — and of course please point it out if i am — but imo you seem to be making the claim that constitutional monarchies are very democratic because they always have impotent executives, and impotent executives are good. others have pointed out that this is not a necessary feature of a constitutional monarchy. we can easily imagine a constitutional monarchy with a strong executive.

your argument, then, was that all current constitutional monarchies have this feature, and we can/should generalize from this fact — after all, what are the odds that they would all share this feature by accident?

this brings us to my argument above: the fact that those governments all share a similar heritage/culture/time in history/etc means that we ought not generalize from their shared features. they aren't random and independent measurements. there are clear covariances.
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Offline xasop

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Re: The Queen
« Reply #34 on: September 12, 2022, 02:33:58 PM »
you seem to be making the claim that constitutional monarchies are very democratic because they always have impotent executives
That is not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that, all else being equal, a constitutional monarchy with a democratic culture tends to be more stable and more democratic than a system with an elected president and a democratic culture. I have also made the point that this is far less important than many other factors.

Remember, this conversation got started when I replied to someone who implied that a monarchy is necessarily undemocratic. I am only asserting that that position is absurd, nothing more.
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Offline Rushy

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Re: The Queen
« Reply #35 on: September 12, 2022, 08:52:12 PM »
you seem to be making the claim that constitutional monarchies are very democratic because they always have impotent executives
That is not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that, all else being equal, a constitutional monarchy with a democratic culture tends to be more stable and more democratic than a system with an elected president and a democratic culture. I have also made the point that this is far less important than many other factors.

Remember, this conversation got started when I replied to someone who implied that a monarchy is necessarily undemocratic. I am only asserting that that position is absurd, nothing more.

This is what naturally happens when you argue with someone who:

1. Is purposefully vague about their argument and uses nebulous terms such as "tends to" without defining what "more stable" and "more democratic" even mean.
2. Already determined that anyone who makes any argument against them is simply ignorant of politics

It is obvious that a monarch cannot be democratic. It was not appointed by representatives of the people or by the people themselves. It was thrust upon them by force. That is inherently undemocratic in any sense of the spirit of democracy. Constitutional monarchies are an artifact of an era where the people had to make compromises with the existing aristocracy. The very existence of a constitutional monarchy is an embarrassment and an abomination.

Re: The Queen
« Reply #36 on: September 12, 2022, 08:58:39 PM »
As always, Stephen Fry shows us the way

Tom: "Claiming incredulity is a pretty bad argument. Calling it "insane" or "ridiculous" is not a good argument at all."

TFES Wiki Occam's Razor page, by Tom: "What's the simplest explanation; that NASA has successfully designed and invented never before seen rocket technologies from scratch which can accelerate 100 tons of matter to an escape velocity of 7 miles per second"

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Offline xasop

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Re: The Queen
« Reply #37 on: September 12, 2022, 09:10:08 PM »
It is obvious that a monarch cannot be democratic.
Good thing that's not what I said, then. But you know that.
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Re: The Queen
« Reply #38 on: September 12, 2022, 09:11:54 PM »
Public admission to the Queen at rest in St Giles, Edinburgh, commenced earlier this (Monday) evening. By some estimates, there are 20,000 people queued three times around one of Edinburgh's public parks, and their numbers will be filing past overnight, all through the night, until sometime tomorrow afternoon.

I predict there'll be a lot of people joining the tail end, only to be turned away sometime tomorrow
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Offline crutonius

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Re: The Queen
« Reply #39 on: September 13, 2022, 06:09:15 AM »
you seem to be making the claim that constitutional monarchies are very democratic because they always have impotent executives
That is not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that, all else being equal, a constitutional monarchy with a democratic culture tends to be more stable and more democratic than a system with an elected president and a democratic culture. I have also made the point that this is far less important than many other factors.

Remember, this conversation got started when I replied to someone who implied that a monarchy is necessarily undemocratic. I am only asserting that that position is absurd, nothing more.

Oh what a terrible thing it is for someone such as myself to walk through life so terribly misunderstood.

I thought this was obvious from the subtext but I was mocking the monarchy not because of any problem with that form of a government.  I was mocking it because it makes me think that England is a land besot with wizards and knights who say "ni" and all manner of arthurian legend.

I was perfectly content to discuss England's dragon problem but you had to take a far more farcical turn, that a monarchy is more democratic than a democracy, which I was happy to oblige for a time.  For a time I assume you were in on the joke but then I realized that you are in fact serious and were making an earnest effort to defend the Monarchy in the same way that a southerner in the 1800s might defend slavery.

I do not blame you.  I blame myself.  I have not had many serious conversations in this particular form and I don't know everyone's sense of humor or lack thereof.

Mea Culpa.