Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Permanent Titular Political Elite
For years this country has had the argument over whether this is a ruling elite in this country. From local examples in every community of families that seem to run on little more than name recognition, to nationally recognized monikers like the Roosevelts and the Kennedys who seemed destined to gain political office at whatever level and time they choose, we've struggled with the notion of whether there is a titular elite. Say what you will over whether such a system actually exists, whether we are in fact overtly or covertly ruled by such a group, or whether this constitutes some wild conspiracy theory (my tin-foil hat is firmly in place); there certainly does appear to be some who seek obtain public service grandeur through some twisted form of divine right. Regardless of what you believe however, you have to admit that for some reason we treat those who have formerly 'served' in government as something special, long after that service is over.
I say this in comparison my own private sector career. During a thirty plus year career in the printing equipment industry, I served in various functions with such titles such as:
- Territory Sales Representative
- Regional Sales Manager
- Product Manager
- National Sales Manager
- Director of Sales and Marketing
- Director of Operations
I no longer perform any of those responsibilities; and as a consequence, can no longer lay claim to any of those titles. In fact in spite of having held a form of the title twice, no one these days calls me a 'Director' (not that they ever did), and I can no longer even claim the title of Manager, since these days I'm getting paid at the rate of a 'Team Leader'. (I once had a customer who was a retired Admiral and insisted on correcting me each time that I forgot to call him by his former military rank.) Yet it seems that former public servants and public officials retain their highest titles long after they've left office.
Every City Councilman, Mayor, County Commissioner, State Representative or Senator seems to demand and be granted the right to be called by the highest title they achieved during their political careers. Certainly a Governor never loses their title (even when they become a Fox News talk show host), nor does a member of Congress or the Senate. This also seems to hold true for those appointed to high office in the State Department or the Judiciary, long after they've 'retired' to so-called private life. So for example we see:
- 'UN Ambassador' John Bolton, who hasn't been one since 2006.
- 'Senator' Fred Thompson, who hasn't represented Tennessee since 2003.
- 'Mayor' Rudy Giuliani, who hasn't served in the Big Apple since 2001.
- 'Speaker' Newt Gingrich, who hasn't led the House of Representatives since 1999.
- 'Judge' Andrew Napolitano, who hasn't sat behind a bench since 1995.
Don't get me wrong here. I chose these people specifically because of the deep respect in which I hold each of them and their views. That respect however, does not extend to granting them a title to which they can no longer hold claim. This doesn't mean that someone shouldn't list their resume of accomplishments when introducing them, quite the contrary in fact. Listing their backgrounds establishes their credentials with those who might not know or remember them. Their former elected positions however, are not knighthoods or lordships which have been conferred upon them for life. Their once lofty appointed jobs are not dukedoms or earldoms that they retain and can pass on to their offspring.
There's something in human nature apparently, that desires to create a form of lordship for those in public office or appointed service. As a consequence, our elected officials seem to demand (and receive) a level, not only of respect, but of reverence because of having won a voting contest. Such unwarranted and unearned elitism has long created a dangerous level of exceptionalism which makes those in the public sector believe that their one-time service ranks them as above those who chose them for these positions and the rules that the rest of us must follow. Increasingly more dangerous however, is the concept of having these people believe that such temporary (and sometimes undeserved) exceptionalism can be retained long beyond service in the office that they once held.
Not for me! We have enough problems dealing with the inflated egos of these so-called public servants as it is. This country was founded on the principle that we acknowledge no lordship of one man over another; and I refuse to accept even the vague notion that any public sector position carries with it the concept of a permanent Titular Political Elite.