Thursday, May 26, 2011

Political Candidates: A 'Royal' Pain in the Ass

You know, it's bad enough that we have to put up with what has become an almost never-ending campaign season without having politicians add insult to injury. I understand that candidates have to raise money to match the riches of Croesus in order to run these days, and must therefore begin the process of large scale begging far earlier than politicians of prior generations. I understand as well that when the president isn't making a speech that shows his inability to function without a teleprompter, we have to put up with the lunacy of 24 hour a day coverage of who's running, who's not, and who all the really smart people would like to have running against the President in these early days of the campaign. I even understand that the game of politics can only be played these days if the candidate is the quarterback surrounded by a large team of handlers, writers, and countless other minions to operate on their every whim. 

Of course most of these skill players only exist to keep the candidate from making a fatal misstep in front of cameras or constituents. (Which begs the question of whether Newt Gingrich's leadership skills should be judged by his campaign's early faux pas. But that's a question for another day ...) The last time that I looked however, it was still individual candidates who were announcing their intention to run for office. It seems however, that it's not enough that we have to put up with overflowing hubris, rampant egotism, and only a vague pretense of false modesty in our candidates. 

Now we have to deal with an apparent assumption of a mantle of nobility by candidates running for elected office, a concept that I thought this country was formed to belie. At least that's what I am forced to conclude based on the fact that so many feel the need to refer to themselves in the third person, and with the royal "We". 

Now I know that we've all grown used to the third party speech pattern from the examples given by the monumental egos of professional athletes. For like politicians, they too are brands to be marketed, and as such they often refer to themselves like brand names. Since I am a big fan of capitalism, it would hardly be consistent of me not to cut them some slack for the use of such language in their efforts. I likewise understand that politicians must in the end be sold to the voting public, so some third party rhetoric is necessary (though I suppose that something in me would prefer elected officials not to be bought and sold)

I would prefer however, that such candidates not treat the process as if they were visiting royalty and not someone shilling for a vote. I don't care what 'WE' think about Obamacare, or what 'OUR' plan might be to solve the spending and deficit crisis in this country. Neither do I care what 'OUR' energy policy might be or what 'WE' plan to do to solve the impending insolvency of Social Security and Medicare. 

Annoyance at this assumed pose of aristocracy in fact often overshadows the ideas being put forward (good and bad); and obscure information that should be the basis on which we decide who might best serve the nation. Attempts at presumed nobility will not make a bad idea a good one, nor will an assumption of false eminence do anything to further policies and ideas that have long since been proven to be a failure. 

It's far past time that candidates learned to speak to us as a person, and from the heart about what they believe. Unlike many in this country lately, I manage to vote every time that an election is held (which reminds me that I need to change the address on my voting registration). As a consequence, I am getting a pretty regular view of the documents used to cast a vote. The last time I looked (not all that long ago), there was room for only one name on the ballot for each job. Since that's the case, perhaps its far past time that those running for elective office thin their internal herd while speaking to us. 

Of course maybe I've got this all wrong. Maybe this is not an assumption aristocracy, but an admission of multiple personality disorder; in which case these politicians may simply be trying to give us a heads up as to the nature and extent of their condition. Quite frankly I hope so. The other possibility, that they feel that by seeking such an exalted position of elected service, that they are somehow catapulted into a societal stratosphere that constitutes royalty in this country, is simply too terrible a thing to contemplate. 

You know, the story is frequently told that Admiral Hyman Rickover of nuclear navy fame had something to say on this subject. His comment was that, "Three groups are permitted that usage: pregnant women, royalty, and schizophrenics. Which one are you?" I can only add to that sentiment in a small way, by repeating what Queen Victoria is said to have stated, "We are not amused".


Roland Hansen said...

WE would now like to make OUR announcement to the great populace of Americans. Let this truth be known by all those honest, hardworking American patriots and subjects of the great United States of America:
"If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve."

Timothy W Higgins said...

"If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve." is an interesting statement. First used by William Tecumseh Sherman, it was later invoked by Lyndon Baines Johnson.

If we are to allow you the use of it Roland, the revelation and use of your middle name may be required.

Roland Hansen said...

Roland Louis Hansen is the man for OUR time.