I wish Americans would stop treating elected officials like royalty and stop using titles as though they are conferred for life. I read an article recently that referred to “five living presidents.” No! We have one living president. Those who have been president at some point are now Mr. Carter, Mr. Clinton, Mr. Bush and Mr. Bush, but you’ll hear every one of them called President. When Sean Hannity interviews Newt Gingrich on the radio, he calls him “Mr. Speaker.” No, people, no. The United States got out from under King George III and established a republic. We have equal standing before the law. We have no inherited titles and no Divine Right of anything. Anyone can grow up to be president. And I do mean anyone. Ba-bump.
The story goes that when Teddy Roosevelt attended the funeral of Edward VII in England, he was offered a fancy carriage for the procession through London. He declined. As representative of a republic, he thought he should walk. When Harry Truman and his wife left the White House, they caught the train home. Compare that to the loads of limousines that American presidents have been flying to other countries for decades. How about Pres. Obama using an enormous black bus and a 40-car motorcade to tour a few Midwestern towns? (I couldn’t help thinking of Strelnikov’s scary train in Dr. Zhivago.)
Anyway, there’s nothing mystical, nothing divine, nothing permanent about any elected office. They say some wanted to make George Washington a king, but he declined. Good on him. Now if only our elected officials, journalists and citizens generally could remember that we have a constitution and not a hereditary nobility, I think the body politic would be a whole lot healthier.