NOTE: The article excerpted on this page is from an outside publication and is posted on FIRE's website because it references FIRE's work. The viewpoints expressed in this article do not necessarily represent FIRE's positions.
The grotesque spectacle of the State of the Union address, with its lengthy receiving line of adoring sycophants, demonstrates why the President is operating under the delusion that he is more than just our President. Like him, many people seem to fundamentally misunderstand his role. He’s not our “leader,” or our “ruler,” or our national “daddy,” no matter what his adoring fan, comic Chris Rock, thinks.
Let’s clarify things for those folks with the unseemly desire to offer up their personal sovereignty to some government hack. Unlike Hollywood geniuses better known for exposing their breasts than exposing their brains, I’ll never pledge to be a servant of any politician.
I’m an American citizen. As such, no mortal man may presume to lead or rule me.
And I already have a father, one who incidentally has a better track record of job creation than Barack Obama by the mere fact that he hasn’t destroyed several million of them. Nor has he left any ambassadors to die, or surrounded himself with kids in a sick circus of political exploitation designed to steal the fundamental rights of law-abiding citizens.
Hell, now I’m thinking “Dad 2016.” I mean, if that’s cool with Karl Rove.
As for Barack Obama, and I say this with no disrespect, but he’s just an employee. There’s this thing military people know as the “chain of command.” When it comes to American citizens, we’re at the top of the chain. Done. That’s the entire chain of command for an American citizen, and the President’s not in it. Should he presume to suggest a course of action, with a few rare and well-defined exceptions, it is just that – a suggestion.
Now, the President is the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, but command in a military context is quite different. Command is a circumscribed function, strictly limited to military personnel engaged in their military duties and focusing not on the prerogatives of power but on the dual responsibilities of accomplishing the mission and taking care of those warriors he leads.
A commander is by no means some sort of rock star, at least if his self-regard is properly kept in check (There is a reason every commander at every level in the military has a grizzled noncommissioned officer assigned to him or her, and it isn’t for ego-boosting).
No, the President works for me, and for you. Too often, Americans seem to forget that. Sure, he has a big job. He’s an executive, with lots of people (civilian and military) working under him. He deserves the same respect as any decent superior should show a subordinate – and make no mistake, the President is a subordinate of even the most humble American citizen.
The idea that we Americans need some sort of government official to give our lives purpose or direction or meaning is appalling and disgraceful. This horrific abdication of personal autonomy is all too common among people who have no understanding of our history or of the true nature of our Republic and the place of citizens within it.
This pseudo-worship can give government officials the idea that they don’t need to bother with the consent of the governed – no wonder they seem to resent the Constitution for doing its job and limiting their power. It may also explain some of the government’s war on religion – perhaps these personality cultists just don’t like the competition.
This sort of weird deference to government officials by people who are supposed to be their bosses is not just limited to President Obama. If you have ever worked on Capitol Hill, you’ve seen congressmen and senators strutting about the halls like dysfunctional peacocks, barely concealing their horror at having to talk to members of the great unwashed public.
What’s worse is how their perks reinforce the notion that they are somehow better than those who elected them. I recall Ted Kennedy, his nose blazing red like he was a half-sloshed, leftist Rudolph, wedging his bloated body into the “Senators Only” elevator. “Senators Only?” I have a better idea – how about I take the elevator, since I paid for it, and you hacks take the damn stairs?
It’s even gotten down to the local level, where minor functionaries think their sinecures give them leeway to exercise petty tyrannies on any mere citizen who interrupts their clock watching. Once, my kid’s school invited the parents in for a morning and I could only be there for half the allotted time. The teacher told me she didn’t approve of my early departure.
Let’s just say that the subsequent conversation went poorly for her. And I left when I damned well pleased.
That’s what needs to happen more. We need to remind our employees who works for whom. Not electing a guy who uses the word “I” four dozen times in a five minute speech would have been a good start, but in our daily lives we can still take a stand.
Is some minor bureaucrat giving you grief? Don’t take it! Try this awesome word that we hear all too rarely from our fellow citizens – “No.” Ask a relevant question – like “Who the hell do you think you are?” Complain, firmly and forcefully, to whoever is doing you wrong, and if that fails to his boss, and then to your city councilman, or state legislator, or congressman if you need to.
If they get really obnoxious, get a lawyer. Our justice system’s a mess, but the one area where there are far too few cases is lawsuits against governmental and quasi-governmental agencies for violating the rights of citizens. Take the example of that scourge of political correctness on campus, theFoundation for Individual Rights in Education(FIRE). When some professorial fascist tries to quell the free speech of a student or allows creepy radicals to eliminate due process rights in the name of ultra-feminism, FIRE is there ready to file and serve. And it gets results.
Americans were born a rebellious, nearly ungovernable bunch of independent individuals, and we need to reclaim that honorable heritage. We have to decide once and for all whether we are going to remain free citizens who answer to no one but God, or become a sad selection of submissive serfs living out our collective political daddy issues.