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5 Covert Conservative Lessons in Downton Abbey

#1 The Lord of the Estate Thinks It's Too Big to Fail

Early in Episode 1 we learn that Robert Crawley invested nearly all of the estate's holdings in a Canadian railway scheme which “everyone” said “couldn’t lose.”

George Murray, Crawley’s lawyer and a trustee of the estate, reminded Crawley that he had advised him against the scheme, but Crawley insisted that he knew better:

We knew hard times were coming for estates like Downton and this investment would make it safe for the rest of time.

While Crawley’s investment strategies would likely qualify him for a position in the Obama administration, his reaction to the loss of his fortune — or rather, his wife’s fortune — doubles down on the failure,

I won’t give in, Murray. I’ve sacrificed too much to Downton to give in now. I refuse to be the failure. The Earl who dropped the torch and let the flame go out.

That’s a fine sentiment and we would admire the earl if he proposed an actual strategy to take responsibility for his poor decisions or if he at least considered Murray’s advice: “I hate to state the obvious, but if there’s not enough money to run it. Downton must go unless you break it up and sell it off piecemeal.”

Perish the thought!

Instead, Crawley takes a “too big to fail” approach: “No. I have a duty beyond saving my own skin. The estate must be a major employer and support the house or else there’s no point to it.”

This is exactly what we see with our own lords and ladies of the Administrative Estate on the American side of the pond. They understand that there would be no point to Big Government — indeed, no point to their existence — if the Administrative Estate is broken up and we “sell it off piecemeal.” Like the servants in Downton Abbey, so many are so dependent on the American Administrative Estate that no one has the courage to be the “earl who dropped the torch” and as a result, We the Servants continue down this Road to Serfdom. Like Downton, the whole American enterprise is essentially bankrupt, but none of our "masters" seem willing to "state the obvious" and admit that "there's not enough money to run it."

Will Lord Grantham ever face the reality of his dire financial situation? Will the lords of our American Administrative Estate? Stay tuned.