Well, the dust has finally settled from the apparent coronation of the king (beg your pardon, swearing-in of the president) and his subsequent State of the Union message. You will have to forgive the slip vis a vis a coronation, but after a comparison of the coronations of various European and Middle Eastern potentates to our own recent inauguration ceremonies, I was struck by the many similarities. It was as though we, too, were crowning a king instead of rehiring a public servant.
Some may question, perhaps even resent, and a few will doubtless ascribe racism to, my use of the term servant relative to the president. Excusez-moi, s’il vous plaît, but aren’t all who are hired, selected, appointed, elected, etc., to serve in government “public servants”? Correct me if I am wrong, but it has always been my understanding that the folks serving in any capacity in city, state and federal governments, whether elected or hired, are there to serve the public…us. In other words, the truly important people are not those hired or elected, but those who hire or elect them. To put it in perspective, the groups under discussion are the servants, or to utilize a less glamorous term, the employees of those who hire or elect them – us.
These people, whether civil or public servants, have been accorded the honor of serving the primary group: We the people. They are essentially our employees, and they are obligated (as are we) to ensure their job performance satisfies the boss – us. This applies very specifically to those elected by us, and sent to the various city, state and federal posts to represent us!
This is underscored by the fact that these representatives, regardless of titles bestowed – congressman, president, vice president, senator – must come back every two, four or six years to obtain our permission to continue to serve. If we the people are pleased with the quality of their service, we allow them to continue. If not, they are given their walking papers and they come home to join the rest of us “ordinary” citizens.
Somehow, the essence of this concept seems to have been lost in the shuffle. The positions have apparently been reversed and the servants have become the masters. We the people have somehow become subservient to the servants we dispatched/hired/elected to carry out our wishes/desires. The rulers have become the ruled.
A primary example is the State of the Union message. We have obviously forgotten the original intent of this address so let us briefly clarify the concept:
The State – the particular condition that someone or something is in at a specific time (the state of the company’s finances; a state of mind – of the Union – a political unit consisting of a number of states or provinces with the same central government, in particular the 50 units/states comprising the United States.
Just as a CEO or CFO presents to the board of directors, or stockholders, the state or condition of a company’s finances or capacities, or a doctor presents to his patients and their family the state of a person’s health and treatment, so the president, via our representatives, must present to we the people (his employers not employees), not some private plan and grand socialist design but the state of the union, or the current condition of our republic. If we the people, the stockholders, the citizens are unhappy with the results, the status quo, changes are made. Thus, every four years the president must return and attempt to reassure us, we the people, that he can be trusted with the job for another term.
The font size utilized in the first three words appearing in the Preamble to the United States Constitution is not a misprint. The founders, who had been part and parcel of reversing the ruler/ruled equation, were determined to clarify the new state of affairs. We the people clearly indicated to them the new status quo. We the people were to be the rulers, not the ruled.
Just in case anyone wonders about the rewards they garnered for their service as leaders, consider:
Five signers of the Declaration of Independence were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died; 12 had their homes ransacked and burned; two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured; nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.
What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists; 11 were merchants; nine were farmers and large plantation owners; all well educated men of means. They signed knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured. Does that sound even remotely similar to the “sacrifices” made by our present leadership?
What if the following comes nearer to describing the present State of the Union? “Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite.” The English translation popularly attributed (wrongly) to such luminaries as Alexis de Tocqueville and Abraham Lincoln has several variations, including, “Every country has the government it deserves,” and “In a democracy, people get the leaders they deserve.”
The actual quote by Joseph de Maistre, a lawyer, diplomat, writer and philosopher in the 1800s is, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” America, does that thought generate hope or horror?
Lest we forget, we the people install our government by action or inaction and by our participation or lack thereof.
“Every nation gets the government it deserves.”