So you're the king, huh?
Imagine a greedy, habitually untruthful, self-aggrandizing, swaggering, undeserving peacock of a man who tries to pull on britches way too big for him. Yes, yes, of course I know that Sleepy Joe comes to mind, and we'll get to him. But I'm referring to Adoniahu, the haughty overreacher who bit off more than he could ever hope to chew.
The portion of the Book of Kings that was read in synagogues around the world yesterday tells the story of the little man who would be ruler, albeit against the stated wishes and intent of his father, King David. David had already announced that his son Solomon would succeed him on the throne. No matter. Adoniahu got to feeling proud and mighty. He slaughtered livestock aplenty for his banquet, got together a bunch of powerful buddies, priests and generals among them. They had big shindigs and parties, and Adoniahu proclaimed himself "king." His allies were all for him and took up the cry.
Well, now. This didn't suit King David at all, who was apprised by his wife Bathsheba and Nathan the prophet of the usurpation. He gave his own mule for Solomon to ride on, and together he, priest, and prophet went to Adoniahu, caused the shofar to be sounded, and anointed Solomon king. That may not sound like much by today's standards, but the righteous power of it frightened the stuffing out of Adoniahu and his cohorts. They questioned "why the city was in an uproar." And the answer was that the people were cheering the restoration of Solomon to his place as rightful heir, by decree of King David. Solomon was even crowned while David still lived. Adoniahu knew that his goose was cooked; his friends trembled and fled. Adoniahu ended up begging King Solomon for his life.
If you usurp leadership, you're asking for one of only two things: submission or war. In the United States, we don't have a king, and that's a good thing: here, the people are sovereign. You're not president unless the people say so, no matter how badly you want it. And, through their votes, and through the secretaries of state, and then through the Electoral College — that transcendently brilliant construct of the Founders — it is the people who get to choose and announce the next president. It's their will that controls, not that that of young upstart princes, nor wobbly aged shills with powerful false friends, nor hidden cabals of nefarious string-pullers. At least, that's how it's supposed to be, although history is replete with malcontents.
The current excruciating limbo about the next president will end, via contentious vote recounts and/or judicial decisions. It's not too much to pray that G-d grant clarity, wisdom, and honesty to those who — in the absence of absolute antique kingly power, of royal mules, of authoritative prophets, and of frightful shofar trumpets — will be charged with ascertaining, demonstrating, and pronouncing just what is the American people's will.
Richard Kantro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.