The whole idea that being highborn makes you a competent leader is constantly proven deadwrong during the whole series. Yet people still fight epic keyboardwars over their subject of devotion, trumping each other with reasons why their hero should rule. People in power construct systems that will keep them there, birthright ensures that the wealth transfers generations. But where the first of their line accumulated, fought, killed, conquered and bartered for it, the offspring is born into it. They see it as their right, given by the gods, not to be critised or question, but written in stone. This leads to people like stannis, who wants to be king although noone wants him to be one or Dany who wants her birthright, altho she never has set foot westerosi soil.
I think GRRM secretly despises all these supposed natural born leaders, fighting for their petty self conceived rights, trampling all the ants on their way to the shinies. It doesn't take a good king to conquer a throne, but it does require a good one to sit comfortably on it. Also the bits where we get insight into Varys and LF are most revealing for how he perceives power mechanics. A scrawny bookkeeper and a fat man with no bits, and they are pulling all the strings, manipulating the self absorbed lords and ladies in their vast power plays. they are the ones who truly understand the game of thrones and see the many levels it has to be played on. Wether out of genuine concern for the realm or just for personal gain remains to be seen offcourse.
That's why it will not matter to the smallfolk if Aegon is a real targaryen or not. Like varys says, power resides where people believe it does, and the smallfolk will be quick to rally behind a banner that gave them 400 relative stable years of rule. Consequently I wouldn't be surprised if Jon gave up his birthright (if R+L=J) because he has allready given up on being lord of Winterfell. He understands that he can make his mark by being a good leader, by accepting the wildlings into the realm and uniting them against the bigger threat,
Bastards are seen as bad blood, treacherous and villainous. This comes from the inherent danger that bastards pose for the established powermechanics, since there will always be the ones who want to claim their piece of the pie. I for one would not mind Jon remaining a bastard, because it shows that they aren't all like Ramsay or Black Walder, but mostly because it would just be too convenient. I myself would like it if a bastard born of fire and ice would save the realm, his song unsong by the bards in the warm castles far away from the wall. Bittersweet indeed.
Consequently, I don't think any of the current contenders will hold on to the IT for too long. They might all do at some point, but they will all learn the hard lesson about ruling out of self entitlement. They are all red herrings, who says there will even be seven kingdoms when it's over?
Edited by fried kraken, 10 September 2013 - 09:16 AM.