During yet another distracting week of drama coming out of the White House, the Press Secretary let loose this little gem:
If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that is something highly inappropriate.
In what country is this true? Certainly not the United States. The Constitution explicitly lays out the rights of individuals regarding speech and press and restricts the placement of “titles of nobility.” Additionally, The Declaration of Independence plainly states “that all men are created equal.”
On the idea of titles granted to individuals, the Founders were trying to prevent family and friends from passing the torches of responsibility to each other without a real democratic representation taking place. It also seems obvious that preventing titles encourages a sense of equality between leaders and their constituents.
I’ve written previously about respect and how simply being someone or something does not automatically confer gratitude and adulation upon one self. Being the so called President or a Super-Cool-Star General does not immediately require that all underlings bow unquestioningly before you. We live in a country where the very public foundations declare and require that everyone is on equal footing.
Notice that I slipped the word “public” into the sentence above. I wanted to make the distinction between public and private equality very clear because people often confuse the two. Public laws apply to every person equally. Politicians are held accountable by their constituents. Leaders are constantly reminded by a careful set of checks and balances established through centuries of debate and guidelines. In this way, no one is above being questioned regardless of what biased and uninformed administration officials spout.
This is different in the private sector where leaders often work their way up the ranks based on sets of standards and principles established by individual corporations. Freedoms of speech and the press as defined in the Constitution do not apply in this context. Chief executives are used to making a declaration and watching it come to fruition through a series of actions by lower level leaders and employees. Through this perspective, it becomes immediately obvious how the current Executive Branch of the United States would be frustrated by questions from journalists and uppity citizens. When you’re used to having your orders carried out in lockstep, every question seems like an attack on your personal character.
I can hear the thoughts in their heads now: “We’re the chief executives of this country! Who do these people think they are?” Wrong. You are elected and paid by the citizens. As such, you are required to answer any and all questions regardless of how they make you feel.