A couple nights ago the official White House twitter feed sent out this picture. They did so after sending another tweet explaining that the President had just begun speaking at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. Yesterday I saw the picture – but not the tweet which preceded it – and wondered how on earth the White House could think it was funny.

After a bit of research, I learned that the President had used this picture at the WHCD as the punch line for one of his jokes: "Anyway, this year, I’ve promised to use more executive actions to get things done without Congress. My critics call this the ‘imperial presidency.’ The truth is, I just show up every day in my office and do my job. I’ve got a picture of this I think."

I’m a big Game of Thrones fan – but I haven’t yet read the books. I’m invested now in the on-screen characters and won’t read the books until the series is over. I don’t want to know what’s coming.

Hereditary rule as the basis for a system of government is a given in the Game of Thrones universe. It’s fun to watch the all the intrigue and deception that surround this "game" – a soap opera with blood and gore and dragons and white walkers and nudity. But nobody votes for the man sitting on the Iron Throne. And the various House leaders are accountable to no one except the people who want them dead for the thing they did to the guy at the place – the "thing", "guy", and "place" are, of course, different for each character.

Given that I don’t know what’s coming, it’s quite possible I’ll be forced to retract this statement at some point in the future: Daenerys Targaryen appears to be emerging as the exception to this rule. Initially acting on the same hereditary claim to the throne her brother pursued prior to his death, she now roams the desert, dragons in tow, freeing slaves and making statements like this: "I do not bring commands. I bring you a choice."

What a radical, classically liberal thought.

Freedom has been the theme of many an Oscar-winning Hollywood movie. Mel Gibson screams the word as he’s being disemboweled at the end of Braveheart. Russell Crowe’s dying words in Gladiator announce that the government in Rome will be returned to the people. Motion pictures need an antagonist, and often that antagonist is a repressive government.

This should create a quandary for the left. Of course bad dictators are bad. But what about enlightened, benevolent ones?

The latter type get to do all sorts of progressive things by fiat. They can declare the debate to be over and mean it – if they allow any debate at all. They don’t have to worry about silly things like freedoms. People are essentially stupid, they say, and must defer to their bettors.

Each of the Game of Thrones characters subscribe to this idea to some degree. The accident of your birth determines your lot in life. Even if you have exceptional virtue, honor, integrity, or strength your station in life will never fundamentally change.

This is the idea that the Declaration of Independence turned on its head. Rights are not conferred upon the masses by a sovereign – all people are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights.

Of course this doesn’t lend itself to a compelling dramatic storyline (think the first half hour of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace). It also doesn’t lend itself to government "getting things done."

Which brings me back to the White House’s tweet. I suspect that the number of people in the White House and at the WHCD who looked at that picture and thought "If only…" is rather large. Tom Friedman remarked several years ago that he wishes we could be "China for a day." Dictators don’t have to sell or defend their policy solutions. They don’t have to argue with people shouting "freedom." They’re able to force us to do the "right" thing regardless of whether or not we agree or the Constitution allows it.

The President’s critics, Senator Ted Cruz foremost among them, have called him an imperial President. But here is the crux of Senator Cruz’s argument: "But this should not be a partisan issue. In time, the country will have another president from another party. For all those who are silent now: What would they think of a Republican president who announced that he was going to ignore the law, or unilaterally change the law?"

A good example is Obamacare – after dozens of ‘enforcement’ decisions by the Executive Branch, what’s stopping a Republican President in 2016 from declining to enforce the entirety of the ACA?

If all this is making national politics feel like a Game of Thrones episode, it means we’ve already centralized too much power into the hands of the people in Washington.

Where is our Daenerys?

I want choices, not commands.

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