I've long been dismayed by the slipping of the "Grand Old Party" into alarmist and anti-democratic disarray, but then I have my criticisms of the "Democratic" Party too. I'm not going to go into those details, in part because it's been said so many times before, and in part because neither group really represents my views of politics. I'm more of a socialist myself, and when I say "socialist", I mean it in the European sense of the world, rather than the USian take of "slightly to the left of centre". To me, most Democrats look like John Major; I'm a socialist in the sense that I believe that the business of the government is to make life better for individuals as well as business, and that it's the voter whose voice should count, rather than Big Business.
Now I have no objection to Big Business existing or making a profit. After all, I rely on it for the very things that make my life worthwhile. Without those businesses I would have no affordable computer, cellphone or car. My objection comes in the form of loathing of the lobbyists they employ to maintain a stranglehold on government, at the expense of their employees and customers.
This objection extends into the way in which electoral campaigns are funded. It is all too often the sad case that the candidate with the biggest war budget (or PAC/Super PAC) wins the election. The dirty war is fought with dirty tactics and little regard for the truth, and increasingly, the actual issues.
Clearly I am not alone in thinking this. At 0600 today, my phone rang. I did not recognise it, but it was a +44 (UK) number, and naturally my curiosity was aroused. I answered and a very posh English voice asked for me by name.
"Who is this?" I asked.
"Colonel Henry Cholmondeley-Minge".
"Ah, I knew your father."
"Which is precisely why Her Majesty asked me to call you. I just need to confirm that I am indeed speaking to the correct operative."
"I'm no longer in The Service, as I am sure you know."
"Her Majesty and I are well aware of this. Nonetheless, you remain a valuable resource, and we would like to keep certain little things just between us."
"This sounds like blackmail to me." I could hear the gentle rattle of a teaspoon against a cup.
"Indeed it is. A dirty word, but most valuable. I'm certain that you would want to keep your involvement in The Event out of the press." I could hear the glee in his voice. He was just like his father, twisting the knife apologetically.
"Very well." As per protocol I confirmed my identity, waited a moment and then heard that very familiar voice at the other end.
"Your Majesty!" I said, with something of a tremble. "How may I help you?"
"I am sorry to intrude into your morning, but I have an important task for you."
"Of course, Ma'am, I am honoured to serve you!"
There was an awkward pause for a second as she recognised the slight untruth.
"It's a tricky assignment, and a dangerous one, and I can think of no-one better qualified for it than you, even though we have had some –shall we say– disagreements in the past."
My mouth was dry. Since I was dismissed from The Service we had not spoken directly, and for her to call me was unusual, to say the least.
"Ma'am, I am certain that bygones will be bygones. What is the nature of the assignment?"
"I am concerned about America."
"As are we all, Ma'am."
"Cut out the toadying! I know full well how you feel about me, and the institution of the Monarchy, but this goes well beyond such matters."
"Of course. Now how can I help?"
"We noted the candidates for their last election, and were very concerned. If those were the best and most competent people to run what they call 'the best democracy in the world', the world is buggered!"
"Yes, M… Yes, I agree."
"The way the country is heading, it seems they are no longer interested in democracy, and despite your views on the Crown, we are concerned about the people. Their 'checks and balances' are rapidly being eroded. We are struck by the need to effect some changes, and you are ideally positioned to manage them."
I nodded. Such is her power of insight that I swear she heard it.
"I am empowering you to take back The Colonies for The Crown. The Foreign Minister will dispatch some people to help you. In a few days they will arrive and you will be briefed by them."
"Your Majesty, you are asking me to overthrow the Government of the United States?"
"I am indeed. It is long past time that they were brought to task."
"I agree, your Majesty, but…"
"No buts. It simply has to be done."
"There is a Knighthood in it for you. That is all. The Minister will be in touch directly."
"Whenever you call me that, it makes me uncomfortable. You're a scoundrel, you old bastard, but you are my kind of scoundrel. Which is exactly why I have chosen you despite our previous disagreements. You have served me well in the past and I cannot imagine you letting me down now."
"Very well, I shall be at your service."
"You're a lying hound, as always. Goodbye and good luck." And the phone went dead.
So enjoy your last Independence Day, New England. The Monarchy has learned a lot over the years, I'm sure it will be an improvement over the last time. And you do owe us rather a lot of tea.