On paper, the US government is a meritocracy. This means that, unlike older monarchical systems of government, state and federal positions are earned on the basis of individual talent, experience and skill, rather than being awarded as an entitlement due to a person's parentage. However, in practice, this doesn't always seem to be the case. Nepotism makes the world go 'round, and it seems even top US officials aren't immune to the siren call of unearned favoritism. While numerous critics have disparaged the practice, Presidents from the 1800s to the modern day tried (with varying success) to install their family members in positions of power -- and some people still wonder whether this is actually legal.
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