Another post from another social media site. This one drew commentary, mainly from people who said they’d never thought about the issue in this way before.
Before I begin, I’m assuming you understand that I’m discussing normal, everyday people and the prevailing mode of dress. It’s important that I remove arguments toward the exception from the conversation before I elaborate.
Forgive my tone and insistence.
Though I might be wrong and you might not agree, the older I become, the more I find this issue to be a problem for me.
If you are in a public governmental space and anyone demands that you dress formally, you can be certain that the forces behind it aren’t interested in democratic representation and equality; title and formality do nothing except to distance us from those who work for us. Beggar, plumber, and lawyer alike are equal where the government is concerned.
All requirements of dress are artificial ways to insist that there are hierarchical distinctions between those served and those serving: servant and master, or at minimum, superior and inferior. In the governance of a democracy, no such distinction should exist.
All government officials work for us, even judges and senators. They are our employees, appointed or chosen based on qualification of résumé rather than worth. In a democracy, we are all equal, even to those who would claim elevated status. While it tends to be a more conservative point, almost all government officials are our employees or representatives; hired, chosen, or assigned to perform a job.
Observing so much of the process and methodology of our government, I’m always surprised that citizens grant illusory privilege to those we choose to govern or judge our disagreements. That we extend this privilege in such a manner that allows them to feel able to sanction us for our clothing is arrogance on their part and idiocy on ours. Whether it’s a judge who irately demands that you put on a tie or never wear open-toed shoes or a senator who won’t allow you to speak to your representatives because you’re wearing mechanic’s coveralls, it’s wrong and wrong-minded.
We owe our respect and allegiance to our collective agreement of justice and equity, not to the fallible men and women who often forget that they serve for us rather than over us. The title or robe do not bring reverence, and if you demand it, you are not worthy of either the robe or the title. I can think of no practical reason to demand that fellow citizens follow a dress code in the presence of the operation of any facet of governance or judicial determination.
Whether I wear a tie, slacks, or dress shoes in no way determines my attitude regarding the service rendered. If the place holds no intrinsic honor and the title is assignable based on qualification, to whom then do we bow to when we acquiesce to the unreasonable and undemocratic demand that we conform our appearance to an arbitrary standard they choose.
Fashion and attire are subjective; they are not factors any reputable government servant should weigh, much less censure. It’s not your job to demand conformity in attire or ours to fear your displeasure.
Simply put, sir or madam, I’ve given up the pretense. If you insist that my attire doesn’t do justice to the place you were appointed or chosen to work, it is you who needs to be removed or sanctioned. We are human beings in the presence of government officials, seeking that you do your job as assigned. Our reverence is toward the law and our democracy, not those who imperfectly bend it to human caprice or avarice.
If you choose to elevate yourself through requirements of attire, please be aware that we as voters can and should pass laws to require you to wear common clothing of our choosing.
Those who fear the mob or accountability to the masses know that dress codes are almost always motivated by a misguided demand to be honored, whether deserved or not.
In the presence of the execution of any government duty, no one should take into consideration the garments on the citizen’s back. This is especially true where our individual interests can be harmed or infringed.
2 thoughts on “Government Dress Codes Are Not Democratic”
Hear hear! This goes for school dress codes as well. I understand certain SAFETY standards apply to attire worn in various (mainly industrial) settings, but when it comes to schools, I’ve found their institution and enforcement of same to be quite arbitrary. On the one hand, there are the students who don’t quite “fit in”, and on the other are the uber popular (usually jocks and cheerleaders). The preceived equity gap between said groups yawns wider and deeper when school officials carry out these ill-conceived precepts.
LikeLiked by 1 person
It’s an interesting subject. While I understand the goal of uniforms, it strikes me as a bit odd in most cases that paid public servants often assume that their job should be easier at the expense of the people they serve. I’m over-simplifying, of course.