A “pretender” is generally considered to be an ambitious individual who makes a controversial claim to a high position.
In the age of monarchy and aristocratic governance, the term “pretender” commonly referred to a royal descendant who professed a claim to power superior to that of the incumbent ruler. As we have seen throughout history, irreconcilable claims by competing aristocrats often led to internal disorder, corruption, violence, and even war.
Conflicting Claims to Power Have Cost Lives
Conflicting claims to power can be costly. For example, in Great Britain, opposing claims to royal power developed in 1685 when the Protestant King Charles II was succeeded by his Catholic brother James II.
While James’s Protestant daughters from his first marriage, Mary and Anne, were clearly in line for the throne, all was cool in Anglican England. Mary, first in line, was securely married to the Dutch Protestant, Prince William of Orange.
But, when James’s second wife, the Catholic Mary of Modena, gave birth to a son, fear of a Catholic succession swept across England. So in 1688, William of Orange invaded the island kingdom. Mary of Modena and her son escaped to France and James followed shortly after.
Between 1689 and 1714, William, Mary, and Anne all took their turns wearing the crown, but when Anne died without an heir, the British Parliament settled the succession question by crowning King George I of the House of Hanover, which ruled Great Britain from that time forward.
Despite Parliament’s lawful decision, the Stuarts, and the “Jacobite” movement their family inspired, carried on a campaign against England over the next 30 years.
The bloody “uprisings” began in 1715 under the “Old Pretender” James Francis Edward Stuart, and continued throughout the mid-century under the “Young Pretender” Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Deadly battles raged from 1715 in Scotland to a Jacobite invasion and the final tragic encounter at Culloden Moor in 1746. The Jacobites were defeated and both of the Stuart “pretenders” lived out their final years under the protection of England’s greatest enemy, Bourbon France.
Over these years of internal strife, thousands of good men, women, and children “on both sides” were killed, wounded, or displaced in what was essentially a contest for power between rival aristocrats.
Great Britain experienced one of the most divisive periods in its history, and a degree of animosity between Scots and the English has lasted to this very day.
American Colonists Discovered a Better Way Forward
After their long War for Independence, from Bunker Hill in 1775, to Yorktown in 1781, founders of the American republic fashioned a more reliable and peaceful means to produce fresh leadership and transfer political power.
Among the fundamental principles of the U.S. Constitution was the idea that citizens would be the final arbiters of who was to govern. America’s founders sought a novel and stable basis for political legitimacy in a modern world.
Despite the disruption of a bloody civil war over the issue of slavery and southern secession in the mid-19th century, the historic agreement that “We the People” are entitled to choose the nation’s leadership in periodically determined, one-person-one-vote, free, fair, and transparent elections became a sacred trust in the American social contract.
Breaking the American Social Contract
“Pretenders” who make claims to high office on the basis of superior heredity are a breed that was thought to have vanished along with absolute monarchs and aristocratic political orders. Apparently, they are back.
In 2016, after a long period of establishment rule, the American people, through electoral rules laid down by their constitutional order, elected a president who promised to restore the nation’s sovereignty, economic prosperity, and military preparedness. Before the world was shaken by the CCP virus, Donald Trump, the consummate palace outsider, kept his promises.
Nevertheless, the president’s pedigree proved to be insufferable to the nation’s permanent managerial elites. Hence, it was decided to remove him by any means necessary: endless public ridicule by the press, framing him and his supporters for non-existent crimes, and a meritless impeachment trial carried out by the Congress.
When none of these tactics worked, Democrats concluded that the sanctity of the nation’s electoral system was less important than the removal of their rival incumbent.
Under the cover of a pandemic, they prepared the way for a rigged election victory. They took early steps to alter established voting procedures. They distributed hundreds of thousands of uncontrollable mail-in ballots. They eliminated reliable voter identification rules and, in crucial swing states, they ejected poll-watchers from ballot processing and counting rooms.
When hundreds of witnesses to the alleged fraud came forward, they were dismissed as crazy conspiracy theorists. Courts refused to consider evidence of wrongdoing, and calls to “move on” from establishment grandees sought to drown out the president’s supporters.
When a Georgia arena video of Democrat election workers accessing cases of hidden ballots after Republican poll-watchers had been instructed to go home became public, the country was told this was entirely normal. Don’t believe your own “lying eyes.”
The Georgia video episode was a surreal reminder of the enormous level of deceit Americans have been forced to accept over the last four years. Scenes from the summer of 2020, when reporters referred to “mostly peaceful protests” while viewers watched buildings on fire, violent assaults on police, vicious attacks on innocent by-standers, and thousands of looters raging through stores, signalled the final demise of truth in the legacy media.
Pretenders Threaten the Destiny of Nations
The enormous level of fraud that has been testified to and revealed by the wildly implausible results of the November presidential election has deeply disturbed millions of ordinary Americans.
For more than half the nation, the United States now appears to be based on a form of systemic political inequality with an entitled elite dominating an effectively disenfranchised citizenry.
Judges may claim that citizens have no standing to bring charges against the corruption of their traditional voting process, and smug statements from urban elites may call on their opponents in the heartland to lay down and accept defeat, but such “pretences” are not a reliable foundation for a shared destiny.
Like elections, “pretenders” have consequences. Politicians who consistently contend that things are something other than they are, eventually earn the contempt of their own people.
As American scholar Michael Anton pointed out in his recent book, “The Stakes: America at the Point of No Return,” “Political legitimacy is a tricky thing—intangible yet essential.”
“A regime seen as illegitimate,” he wrote, “is unstable and unlikely to last—and unlikely to function well while it does.”
William Brooks is a Montreal writer and educator. He currently serves as editor of “The Civil Conversation” for Canada’s Civitas Society and is an Epoch Times contributor.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.