Conventional wisdom would suggest that a divisive, high-handed former actress with a failed record of public service in Britain and no legislative experience would be an unlikely candidate to serve in the highly respected US Senate. Not to mention the fact that the actress has earned the just opprobrium of America’s strongest ally for having vilified one of its most deeply respected institutions. But in Joe Biden’s America, where virtue signaling and identity characteristics are the chief selection qualities for office – and competence is an afterthought – Meghan Markle seems a likely candidate for high office.
It was announced last Friday that long serving California Senator Dianne Feinstein had passed away. The Seventeenth Amendment to the US Constitution empowers state legislatures to appoint a replacement to serve out the deceased senator’s term. In the end California governor Gavin Newsom, himself a name circulated to replace beleaguered Biden, chose Laphonza Butler, president of the influential pro-choice political action committee EMILY’s List, as replacement Senator.
But that didn’t prevent wild speculation in various quarters before the event that Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, might get the job. Speculation continues that she might enter US politics by another route.
In a number of respects, Ms Markle makes sense as a choice for Democrats. However, for those Americans for whom competence and suitability matter, Markle would be a senator worthy of the humiliations she received in recent years from cartoons, comedians, and Hollywood executives who have called into question everything from Meghan’s credibility to her work ethic.
Certainly, Ms. Markle’s track record of public service does not speak volumes in support of her potential to be a successful US senator. It is difficult to imagine her serving as a junior member, one of 100 senators, when Meghan has displayed an obsession with top billing. Indeed this was one of many factors that strained her tenure among the British Royal Family. The Duchess proved woefully unable to rise to the occasion and carry out the duties expected of her because they were not on her terms. While Markle has been involved in charity work and advocacy, her self-serving goals seem to shape the agenda. Her experience as a member of the British royal family hardly forecasts the political acumen required for congressional success.
Being a senator (or perhaps a member of the lower house) involves making decisions that impact the lives of millions of Americans. An understanding of complex policy issues, and a genuine commitment to serving constituents should be prerequisites for this role. Markle’s principle work as a celebrity and social media influencer won’t serve the country particularly well in those regards.
And a legislator who has a history of publicly attacking an ally’s respected constitutional institution – the very one that drives interest in her at all – seems a recipe for disaster. Effective politicians must build consensus, work collaboratively, and respect the institutions they serve. Meghan Markle’s behaviour and actions raise doubts about her ability to do so, which could ultimately harm the interests of her constituents and the American people.
Then there is the elephant in the room of Meghan’s title. Willing to traduce and betray the institution that delivered her that honour, she has nevertheless not hesitated to trade on the title to advance her ambitions. Markle has even used it to interfere in US politics as she did in 2021, when she sent correspondence on letterhead, “From the Desk of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex” encouraging Congress to establish paid leave as a “national right.”
Considering that members of the British royal family are expected constitutionally to refrain from involvement in politics, should the Duchess ever become a candidate for US political office, her title must be revoked unequivocally. US Constitutional experts have suggested maintaining her title while serving in office could conflict with Article I, Section 9 of the US Constitution. Such an unprecedented situation could create diplomatic tensions between the United States and the United Kingdom.
America is in a downward spiral in our current iteration where leaders prioritise selecting appointees for reasons of virtue signaling over competence and suitability. Meghan Markle might have just the profile Democrats seek nowadays. Heaven knows, Joe Biden’s litany of serious shortcomings gave no pause to a political party that puts its own interests above country. Meghan might fit in particularly well with that crowd: but I maintain it would be a disaster for the USA. As a patriotic American I devoutly hope that the Duchess’ name is not mentioned again in connexion with political office here.