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 aÂ 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 aÂ public servant.
Some may question, perhaps even resent, and a few will doubtless ascribe racism to, my use of the termÂ servantÂ relative to the president.Â Excusez-moi, sâ€™il vous plaĂ®t,Â but arenâ€™t all who are hired, selected, appointed, elected, etc., to serve in government â€śpublic servantsâ€ť? 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 toÂ serveÂ the publicâ€¦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 theÂ servants,Â or to utilize a less glamorous term, theÂ employees ofÂ those who hire or elect themÂ â€“Â us.
These people, whetherÂ civilÂ orÂ publicÂ servants, have been accorded the honor of serving the primary group: We the people.Â They are essentially ourÂ employees,Â and they are obligated (as are we) to ensure their job performance satisfies the boss â€“Â us. This applies very specifically to those elected byÂ us, and sent to the various city, state and federal posts to representÂ us!
This is underscored by the fact that theseÂ representatives, regardless of titles bestowed â€“ congressman, president, vice president, senator â€“ must come back every two, four or six years to obtain our permission to continue toÂ serve. IfÂ we the peopleÂ 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 â€śordinaryâ€ť 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.Â We the peopleÂ have somehow become subservient to the servantsÂ weÂ dispatched/hired/elected to carry outÂ ourÂ wishes/desires.Â 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 â€“Â the particular condition that someone or something is in at a specific time (the state of the companyâ€™s finances; a state of mind â€“Â of the UnionÂ â€“Â 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, theÂ state orÂ condition of a companyâ€™s finances or capacities, or a doctor presents to his patients and their family the state of a personâ€™s health and treatment, so the president, via our representatives, must present toÂ we the peopleÂ (his employersÂ not employees), not some private plan and grand socialist design but the state of the union, or the current condition of our republic. IfÂ 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,Â we the people,Â 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.Â We the peopleÂ clearly indicated to them the new status quo.Â We the peopleÂ were to be theÂ rulers, not theÂ ruled.
Just in case anyone wonders about theÂ rewardsÂ 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 pledgedÂ their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.Â
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 â€śsacrificesâ€ť made by our presentÂ leadership?
What if the following comes nearer to describing the present State of the Union?Â Â â€śToute nation a le gouvernement quâ€™elle mĂ©rite.â€ťÂ The English translation popularly attributed (wrongly) to such luminaries as Alexis de Tocqueville and Abraham Lincoln has several variations, including, â€śEvery country has the government it deserves,â€ťÂ and â€śIn a democracy, people get the leaders they deserve.â€ť
The actual quote by Joseph de Maistre, a lawyer, diplomat, writer and philosopher in the 1800s is,Â â€śEvery nation gets the government it deserves.â€ťÂ America, does that thought generate hope or horror?
Lest we forget,Â we the peopleÂ install our government by action or inaction and by our participation or lack thereof.
â€śEvery nation gets the government it deserves.â€ť