Would she be good at the job? Maybe. But the campaign would be a political nightmare...
This week author Tom Bower — who reportedly signed a six-figure book deal to write an unauthorized biography of Meghan Markle — spoke to British tabloid Closer about the Duchess' prospects in American politics.
While her husband Prince Harry would have to get his American citizenship to pursue political office — and could never be eligible for the presidency — as a natural-born American citizen, there would technically be nothing stopping Markle from running for any office, up to and including commander-in-chief. And Bower suspects that's exactly "where she sees herself going."
If she wanted to be president, she would, of course, have to renounce her title as Duchess of Sussex — because the emoluments clause of the US Constitution actually counts if you're a woman, a person of color, a Democrat, or all three in Markle's case. But considering the fact that she and Harry have already stepped back from their royal roles to live as private citizens in America, that doesn't seem like too big a hurdle.
But does Bower even know what he's talking about? In the interview, he claimed that that "the prospect of Meghan running for president is possible and I'd even say likely," but according to The Sun, he has a full year of research ahead of him, which he will spend "speaking to the star and husband Prince Harry's friends, foes and associates."
In short, he might not even have a good sense of Markle yet. And to the extent that he does, he might not be a particularly reliable source.
A Harsh Biographer
Bower is known for his scathing, sometimes questionable portraits of figures from billionaire Richard Branson to former Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Ghislaine Maxwell's disgraced father Robert Maxwell. If this is another "hatchet job," Bower may simply be painting Markle in what he considers to be the harshest light possible.
While he suggests that she would have "a good chance of getting into the White House," and could "have tea with the Queen one day as President of the United States," he also seems eager to emphasize an unflattering view of Markle as overly-ambitious and hyper-sensitive.
His assertions that she "masterminded" the so-called Megxit she and Harry made from royal life, and that she would "need to learn to take the heat" of public scrutiny as a politician, reflect a perspective that predominates in much of the British media. And his seeming acceptance of reports that Markle bullied staff — claiming that "she doesn't seem to be able to hold onto her team" despite Markle's insistence that said reports are a "calculated smear campaign" — suggest a willingness to side with her detractors.
Has Meghan Split the Royal Family? | Good Morning Britain www.youtube.com
While Markle is generally viewed in a favorable light in the US, that's not the case in Harry's home country, where the royal family is largely still beloved and Markle's damning Oprah interview was seen as out of bounds. The idea that she is eager for the opportunity to run for president plays neatly into a narrative that is already painting her as a selfish opportunist.
Still, according to a friend speaking to Vanity Fair, Markle might "seriously consider" running. So, just in case there's any truth to Bower's perspective, it's worth noting why a Meghan Markle presidential would be a terrible idea...
A Messy Campaign
At first blush she seems like a great option. A young, attractive, poised, and charismatic Black woman, with plenty of experience in the public eye, and close ties to the leadership of one of our nation's closest global allies, she certainly has what it takes to navigate a political campaign... But that campaign would be so awful.
For a start, Markle's "close ties" to Enlgand would not exactly make for smooth diplomacy. Many Britons see her as something akin to a usurper. Elevating her to the highest office in American politics — only after she discards her UK title — would be more likely to sour relations between the two countries than to improve them.
The British narrative would also be guaranteed to make its way over into the American press, with Conservative outlets all too willing to paint an ambitious Black woman as undeserving of her position. While this tactic is guaranteed to be deployed against basically any woman of color running for high office (see: Kamala Harris), the established narrative in the British press would give them a head start, and they would be brutal.
The fact that Markle's estranged and (possibly) envious white father and step-sister would love to play into that story and criticize Markle for doing more with her life than they think she deserved would make things all the worse.
A Royal Celebrity President?
Markle is no doubt aware of all this, and if she feels up to putting herself through such a grueling process — after being driven nearly to suicide by the British press — all for the opportunity to serve her country, good for her. But do we, as a country, really want to deal with that mess for the sake of putting another celebrity in the White House?
Maybe if the former Suits star starts out with a couple terms in Congress, she'll have a strong enough foothold in American politics to be more than just another famous person using their profile to run for high office. Maybe we'd all find out that she's actually great at navigating policy and politics. But until she's proven that, the whole "outsider president" thing is a bit played out.
While a role in the British monarchy is largely ceremonial, the Presidency requires real governance. And we've seen how poorly an amateur can manage that responsibility.
Okay, there's no way she would be this bad...
Finally, on the topic of the monarchy, the United States was founded with the express intent of severing our ties from that institution. Even so, we already have too much of a tendency to create political dynasties — think the Clintons, the Bushes, the Kennedys.
It may be a superficial objection, but the UK doesn't need a monarchy anymore, and we definitely don't need to get the actual British royal family involved in the presidency of the United States. The idea of Harry — the literal great, great, great, great, great, great grandson of the King George III against whom the founders revolted — moving into the White House as the first gentleman is just too weird to think about.