Level the Playing Field– Here’s a Start

Here’s a suggestion that is simple enough but will be resisted unless pushed along by the people for whom this group worked- Hint, that’s you and me.

Article I, Section 9, Clause 8, prohibits the federal government from issuing titles of nobility or honor, and Section 10, Clause 1, prohibits the states from issuing them. So, why then do we have all these honorific titles like Secretary, Judge, General, Director, Ambassador etc. We have created our own aristocracy of former office holders who go around brandishing their former employment with government entities as if it were a knighthood or a seat in the House of Lords. Who would join me in supporting a law that states: no former office holder of a position in the US Federal Government or constituent state government shall continue to use the title of the office after their term is complete. This includes all appointed secretaries of executive branches; elected members of the Houses of Representatives or the Senates; Officers of the Armed Forces, Ambassadors to foreign governments or organizations; Directors of US Government or State Agencies or any other title associated with a position within the US Government or State governments.

Regrettably, we have, in keeping with our British origins, allowed the growth of an aristocracy of individuals who were appointed to work for the people of the US or individual State governments but somehow came to the understanding that having been appointed as an employee of these governments they have joined a separate class that places them above the average citizen for whom they worked. “But they’re just honorific titles that these people earned,” their defenders will argue. Yet a quick glance back at Clause 8 tells us that it is illegal to issue titles of nobility OR HONOR. So, why do we need a law? Because the tradition of allowing this lack of compliance with the Constitution to grow, we need a disrupting act to stop the practice. You may argue that these titles are not granted by Congress and thus not illegal, BUT in allowing such practices Congress has sanctioned a violation in absence of taking the action the Constitution requires.

When a President leaves office they are supposed to revert to being a citizen equal with all their fellow citizens (except for those special privileges accorded them in the Former Presidents Act of 1958. Bet you thought presidential pensions and Secret Service protection had been in place a lot longer than that.) So too, an appointed Secretary, Judge or other individuals elected or appointed to federal or state office are expected to step back into the citizenry; but in today’s world they don’t revert to citizen status preferring to take their position in that honored class of former this’s and that’s. They want to be called Secretary or Ambassador or Senator, etc. We are a republic of equals and to have allowed a separate class of people to form is not in keeping with the democratic principles upon which this nation was formed. When someone leaves office they are owed nothing but our thanks, if appropriate, or our disapproval, if appropriate. They are not to be accorded special prerogatives for having had the privilege to serve the nation or state, (except Presidents.) They were well paid and will probably be able to use their former government position to leverage some nice sinecure in the private sector. That should be enough.

By the way, that law should also state that if they had a security clearance, it is cancelled. As a former whatever they have no need to know and should not be able to reach back into the government for information not available to every other citizen of the republic.

This may seem a trivial item but if you draw back and look at it from a distance you will see how allowing people to believe they are somehow superior in status because they have served in government, either federal or state, is harmful to the overall health of the republic. It will help to restore a balance in our society that has become skewed by the media, the cult of personality and the desire to achieve a fame or status that places one above others. Oh, that Former Presidents Act has been changed twice regarding Secret Service protection and other expenses allowed. It should be overhauled as well in light of why it was originally passed (Harry Truman was almost bankrupt) and what it has become. Perhaps it should be predicated on a financial status report.

So, what say you?

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