Thursday, December 29, 2016

Our President's Narcissism, and Our Part in Feeding It

For anyone so interested, it may be useful to be reminded periodically, that America was not always as it is, and that Americans, too were much different once upon a time.  Kevin Williamson, over at National Review has a piece on Obama's Last Days that bemoans not only the apparent narcissism of the President himself, but our attitude toward this cult of personality. We citizens could nip this sort of thing in the bud by not paying it the attention that the President so craves. But we don't. It wasn't always so.
To be a republican in the 18th century was to be a radical. The American founders were deeply suspicious of pomp and circumstance: It is not mere coincidence that the ban on an official national church (that, and not having a manger scene at city hall, is what “establishment of religion” means) came in the first item on the Bill of Rights. Many republicans of the founding era were so suspicious of religious bureaucracies that it was not a foregone conclusion that the Catholic Church would be tolerated throughout the colonies. (Indeed, for a time it wasn’t.) And they were even more suspicious of the claims of royalty. In the person of the English king, they found a compound of those sources of suspicion: a hereditary monarch who was head of state and church both.
The idea that a large, complex society enjoying English liberty could long endure without the guiding hand of a priest-king was, in 1776, radical. A few decades later, it became ordinary — Americans could not imagine living any other way. The republican manner of American presidents was pronounced: There is a famous story about President Lincoln’s supposedly receiving a European ambassador who was shocked to see him shining his own shoes. The diplomat said that in Europe, a man of Lincoln’s stature would never shine his own shoes. “Whose shoes would he shine?” Lincoln asked.
As I have noted in the past, the idea of nobility was like putting lipstick on the pig. So called "noble families" started out as the most ruthless, most murderous thugs in the region, who bullied murdered, and forced their way until they were given control. Usually, they had to continue to be more ruthless and murderous than everyone else because any sign of weakness they showed would have been the end of them as another nearly as ruthless and murderous creature would take their place.  These people then took the wealth of the people as taxes, in return for guaranteeing the peoples safety.  Of course, they never kept their promise, but the peoples wealth was taken nonetheless.  Funny how that works.

No one who demands respect by virtue of noble birth, should receive any more respect than that given to any man or woman by virtue of their humanity.  Nor should one who is wealthy by reason of noble birth be allowed to keep it.  It was stolen, truly.

American Presidents, Senators, Congressmen, indeed any official should be shown the same respect due to anyone else, and no more. These people are a self selected bunch, who have by hook or crook, convinced enough people to vote for them.  As a result they have been given great responsibility, and temporarily the perks that go with that job.  The perks that go with the job are not personal attributes but rather taxpayer concessions to facilitate performing their job.   For example, former Presidents receive lifetime Secret Service protection at taxpayer expense.  We do this to ensure that Presidents actually leave office, knowing they will be protected from those they may have hurt with their decisions during their time in office.

 The constant obsession with the Presidents comings and goings, what he ate for breakfast, and when he last farted should be of no more concern to us than that of anybody else.  The President should shine his own shoes, for crying out loud.  In a health republican polity, the President would be like the School Principal.  Yes, you know who he is, and have a vague idea what he does, but
in your day to day activities as a students, your teachers and your work are more important.  Nobody idolizes the Principal.  

No comments:

Post a Comment