OP/ED: The Rightful Fall of Camelot

Why is America cursed to forever idolize the ones in power?


The steady decline of independent thought in this country and the rise of a groupthink mentality is the frightening result of Americans idolizing the ones in power. 

The act of worshiping politicians that an individual has voted for, holding onto every word they speak, and blindly following any order given is a behavior that has long gone unchecked and has become for some the standard for participating in politics. 

And neither side is without criticism when it comes to this ill-fated loyalty to elected officials.

Political leaders on both the left and right have garnered a cult-like group of loyal supporters,  the extremes in this department vary, who see them as the only ones that can save a broken nation. It sounds dystopian, but this isn’t some fiction conjured up to open our eyes to a hypothetical future. 

One only needs to look outside their window and see a country where the men and women in power feed off of the worship of the public. 

This is a legitimate concern that many are willing to put their undying trust in politicians without question. From former President Donald Trump being seen as a god-sent warrior ready to vanquish the evil democratic party, to Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being seen as a feminist icon toppling the patriarchy. 

Like most issues of society, we only need to look at its history to understand the origins of the problem. In the aftermath and subsequent mourning of President John F. Kennedy, his wife, Jackie Kennedy, spoke to Life magazine in an interview that ultimately changed how Americans saw politicians and more specifically the late president and the political dynasty he left behind. 

While trying to put into words the level of loss Kennedy’s death was to the nation he governed, the First Lady compared her late husband to the mythical King Arthur who ruled over his peaceful realm of Camelot.

“Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief, shining moment that was known as Camelot. There’ll be great presidents again but there’ll never be another Camelot.” 

this will become an epidemic that will leave our country’s flag surrounded by smoke and ashes.

This seemingly innocent comparison to English legend changed the course of American history and created a hunger in every citizen that could never be satisfied. 

An American monarch was taken from them by a madman with a gun, and there is nothing they could do to ever bring him and his peaceful reign back from the dead. 

Almost instantly, the Americans of the 1960s fed into this nostalgic-filled propaganda that was strategically made by the clever Jackie Kennedy to immortalize her husband through American myth. 

But unknowingly, the second those words left her lips she created the beast we now battle against 60 years later. The beast of idolization. 

Because of this heavy and unapologetic rewriting of history, the brain chemistry of the collective American mind has been irreversibly altered so that now, even the generations of Americans who never lived during the Camelot era are desperate for another Kennedy-like leader. 

Looking at the current misshapen political landscape we now suffer under, it makes me wonder if the reason so many gather behind their most adored leaders like a flock of sheep led into the slaughter is because we have not yet moved on from what happened on the streets of Dallas. 

The American subconscious will never forget the fairy tale of how a president and his administration ought to be. Perhaps were cursed to forever crave a contagious, optimist man who never tired from his work to drag a nation into a dream only he saw. 

We want another fantastical Camelot to make sense of the real muddy world where leaders fight for themselves and not the citizens. 

Moments like the Jan. 6 riots, the rise of the QAnon movement, and people online openly admitting to seeing faults in liberal leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are moments where we have to take a step back and realize we don’t see these people as people. 

We see them as idols, as symbols for our beliefs. And when they fail or use that devotion to their advantage, those actions are either ignored or excused. 

When an elected official like Marjorie Taylor Greene tweets about being in support of a “national divorce,” which is the nice politically correct way of calling for a bloody and violent secession, why aren’t her over half a million followers on Twitter mortified? Why are her words celebrated and seen as “free thinking” and not condemned? 

This tendency for a civilization to happily group around a larger-than-life leader is the norm, not the exception. 

The kings and queens of England claim they and their bloodline have the divine right to rule over their lands, dozens of Greek and Roman rulers were seen as the incarnation of gods, and Ancient Egypt was a civilization governed under a theocratic rule. 

I say this not as a lesson in history but to put idolization into perspective. Idolizing the ones in power is a pattern that needs to be broken. 

And this isn’t meant to generalize and villainize the Americans who vote for a certain candidate, it’s to start the journey of leaving behind the dream of another Camelot so we can grow. 

We don’t need a singular leader to collectively stand behind us to make our nation a stronger place.

This type of thinking has led to extreme consequences like political riots, assassination attempts, and crazed conspiracy theories that have fogged the minds of thousands and triggered the threat that a “storm is coming.”

It’s an unhealthy desire to place your whole faith in someone incorruptible. The Kennedys were not the pure beacon of light they are remembered as. They had faults and secrets and skeletons in their closets. 

From President Kennedy’s numerous affairs, his embarrassing foreign affairs policies that nearly led to nuclear armageddon, and Kennedy’s horrific treatment of JFK’s own sister Rosemary, it is clear the Kennedy dynasty was grimmer than we care to admit. 

But all of those failures were cheerfully swept under the rug of the Oval Office because the desire of a Camelot was stronger than the desire for accountability. 

Theodore White, the Life magazine author who aided Jackie Kennedy in mythologizing her husband’s presidency, described the Kennedy reign as “a magic moment in American history, when gallant men danced with beautiful women, when great deeds were done, when artists, writers, and poets met at the White House, and the barbarians beyond the walls held back.”

The American subconscious clearly wants a return to this. But like the Kennedys that American folklore portrays them as, we must remember that the legend of King Arthur of Camelot is exactly what it’s called…

A legend. A fairy tale meant to entertain and romanticize the real world. 

But there will always come a time where we all have to awake from the dream of innocence and set aside the child-like notion that the ones in power are heroes we should worship. 

Yes, Jackie Kennedy was right. There shall never be another Camelot. 

And we should be thankful for that.