HBO’s “House of The Dragon” and Amazon’s “The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power” provide an instructive contrast. (You might call them fables for our times.) One is about power for power’s sake; the other concerns virtue and containing power.
Each is based on the works of a popular storyteller – English author J.R.R. Tolkien and modern American novelist George R.R. Martin. Both are set in mythical realms — Middle Earth and Westeros. Both have dragons, swordplay and a loyal fan base.
But Tolkien’s world has a gravitas that Martin’s lacks. Middle Earth also has poetry and grandeur.
While Tolkien’s work also has betrayal and savagery (though it lacks the sadistic violence of “Dragon”), its focus is on heroism and sacrifice. Characters are willing to die so that goodness may live.
“House of The Dragon” is about the will to power — who will sit on the Iron Throne and rule Westeros and what they will do to come out on top – which often includes things that would make Nancy Pelosi faint.
In Tolkien’s world, people, elves and dwarfs sometimes succumb to evil, due to pride, greed, fear or envy. But there’s also innocence and nobility.
Not so in “House of the Dragon.” The principal characters so far are King Viserys Targaryen (a moody monarch who alternates between anger and despair), his daughter, Princess Rhaenyra (a sullen teen who worries that her daddy doesn’t love her) and the King’s brother, Daemon Targaryen – a nasty piece of work who threatens to give evil a bad name.
In Rings, there is the courage of Galadriel (leader of the Elvin army), Nori Brandyfoot (a small creature with a big heart), the intrepid Elf warrior Arondir and his love interest, the human healer Bronwyn.
The “Rings of Power” reflects Lord Acton’s adage: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Like the heroes of “Rings of Power,” the Founding Fathers sought to contain power. The Constitution with its balance of power between the three branches of government and respect for the rights of citizens (another limitation on government) was their genius.
President Joe Biden claims fidelity to the Constitution, while constantly undermining it.
Democrats always seek to expand government. They are wannabe dragon lords who are turning citizens into serfs. Whatever Washington spends, it’s never enough. They view taxpayers as milch cows for the welfare state.
For them, the Constitution is more a series of suggestions than a limitation on the power of the state. Barack Obama said, “I’ve got a pen and a phone” and can do pretty much as I like through executive orders. Mr. Biden is testing the limits of that by transferring $1 trillion in student debt from potentially high-earning graduates to truck drivers and waitresses, without Congressional approval. The Desolation of Joe?
No one gave Mr. Biden the authority to allow roughly one million people to enter the country illegally each year. He did it by simply refusing to enforce the nation’s immigration laws.
Under the direction of Democrats, Congress has spent $4.6 trillion on “emergency” COVID relief measures. The president’s party lavished money on its favorite constituencies (like teachers’ unions) to counteract a shutdown of the economy it engineered.
The Orc army unleashed by social justice warriors spent most of 2020 rampaging through our cities – burning, looting and killing. Democrats used this crisis to push what they call racial justice, including CRT in our schools.
Power is seductive.
In “The Fellowship of the Ring” (which follows “Rings of Power” chronically) Boromir wants to use the one ring to save his city from the evil of Sauron. It ends up corrupting him and eventually leads to his death. The Wizard Gandalf refuses to take the ring, saying he’d be tempted to use it for good, which would be his undoing.
Democrats always dress their pursuit of power as benevolence. They want to save low-income workers, graduates burdened with debt, consumers struggling with high drug prices, women whose “reproductive freedom” is threatened, the victims of racism and the earth.
At least the Dark Lord Sauron didn’t tell the inhabitants of Middle Earth, “I’m from Mordor and I’m here to help you.”
“Rings of Power” offers the possibility of goodness in a world beset by evil. “House of The Dragon” is the 2024 Democratic Nominating Convention if Mr. Biden doesn’t run.
• Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer and syndicated columnist.