In my opinion, one of the best and immediate steps we can take to retake control of our political system is to stop collectively pretending that elected officials are anything other than well-qualified workers we choose to perform specific civic tasks. They work with us and for us to meet our agreed upon goals.
Much of our distrust of the political system stems from the fact that we perceive “them” as separate from us. It is within our power to insist that “they,” in fact, be us. It is our fault that we allow anyone to stand above us.
I do not understand the pomp and circumstance that so many people seem compelled to provide to the political process. All political positions are just jobs. Those who fill them are constructed of the same DNA as the rest of us and most of us should be capable as adults of doing some of these jobs. If we could somehow be able to approach politics with this idea in mind, it seems as if some of the hostility we feel toward politics would dissipate.
All the titles, all the pompous tomfoolery, and faux prestige should be discarded. I cringe when anyone in a position of trust demands that he or she is addressed by an artificial title. The likelihood that their ego and self-importance interferes with their assigned tasks becomes insurmountable.
You’re not “The Distinguished Gentleman,” sir, you were chosen by the people you work for, to represent our interests. A competent judge is not “Your Honor,” as she or she is sitting in the seat precisely because of his or her legal competence. Both the senator and the judge in my commentary owe us just as much respect as we owe them. Without us, their presence is not necessary. Titles and ceremony create an illusion of hierarchy where none should have ever been tolerated, much less nourished.
From mayor to a senator or president, all of them are people who are compensated for their expertise. It is assumed that each of them values the honor we have bestowed. Those we choose to work on our behalf are compensated for their service. Civic duty in the proper context is rewarding for everyone.
Any elevation of status is a miscalculation on our part and in my opinion is a great deal of the problem we have in our society.
There is no mystery to civic service, no hidden list of qualifications for any of the offices we fill with fallible human beings. Being a senator, councilperson, or judge is an honor to the person performing the position, as we have chosen and entrusted him or her to do his or her job competently.
There is no reciprocal expectation that we should address any of them as anything other than someone working on our behalf. The title does not confer to the person individually, at least not based on the jobs we’ve given them. In an equitable system, we would tend to choose the best candidates for the specific job and the person chosen would reflect well on the level of responsibility we’ve conferred. The person does not reflect on the position, even though we resist acknowledging this idea. Competence is rewarded and incompetence is not -so that anyone we choose to occupy a job will be held to that standard.
All of us contribute extraordinarily to our society, whether we are teachers, judges, police officers, or those who cook our food for us. Those employed in politics are of no greater utility. Judges are legal scholars – or should be; as such, they should refrain from pomposity and reverence toward their own thundering voices. No judge or representative is more than my equal; he or she should be more educated and trained in their fields, however.
There is no mystery in public service. Everyone employed by our government bodies is one of us, hopefully endowed with a specific expertise. Any of us should be welcome and able to fill a position of responsibility if we have the ability. We are all equals in this sense. Titles interfere with the concepts of merit and function.
It is time we push the reset button on the illusion of elevated status in the United States.
Until all political positions are filled by people like us, based on competency, and without expectation of privilege, we will never achieve what we are capable of.
Enough with the titles. You work for us.
While my view is simple, it is not simplistic.