Public Domain. Official session in a Chinese Yamen, Guangzhou, pre-1889. Photo: Creative Commons.
Theory: Deference is a tactic that has been fully exploited by the political class for over 100 years to our collective detriment. Let’s examine that postulation in detail. What does deference mean? Here’s the dictionary definition:
deference [def-er-uh ns]
noun: respectful submission or yielding to the judgment, opinion, will, etc., of another.
Deference is typically shown to older – and/or believed to be more experienced – people in various matters. As examples, we defer to the clergy in matters of religion, doctors in matters of medicine, and judges in matters of the law (the honest ones, anyway). Deference is also shown to people with credentials, too. What do I mean by that? There is a societal belief that people with the “right” credentials should be deferred to in matters associated with those credentials. The more credentials one “earns,” the more deference shown. There are all kinds of credentials: those earned by learned/demonstrated skills, those awarded by authoritative boards and committees, those achieved by passing tests, etc. Credentials are frequently used to preclude laymen from filling positions – a form of gatekeeper control.
But do credentials actually mean anything? Should we defer to people simply because they’ve got a piece of paper? Trust but verify works in the realm of validating credentials in everyday life, too. We look at the track records and recommendations/ratings first, don’t we? Who would willingly go to a known pedophile priest, a quack doctor, or a corrupt judge and blindly adhere to their advice without first checking them out? Let’s go one step further and look at the political class.
The political class has developed a sort of credentialism that accrues to politicians at different levels of government to the point that people elected to federal or certain state offices are considered “experts” in government operations and, seemingly, in virtually every topic and issue brought forth for consideration, regardless of whether there is any direct past expertise in those matters or not. Politicians blithely tell us to “trust them” because they are “experts” in how government operates – and a whole host of other myths intended to convince us to essentially let them run wild and free. I would argue they as a class have been pretty successful in that regard, as the national debt now exceeds $22 trillion! The bottom line is that they want us to look upon them as royalty and to treat them accordingly. They willfully forget that they serve us, not the other way around.
But let’s look at the facts: how many of the members of Congress have ANY expertise in any of the important matters under consideration these days? Who among them know anything about medical care (except for a very few who were formerly practicing physicians)? Or national security affairs, foreign policy, military requirements, “infrastructure,” the financial services industry, physical science as applied to environmental policy, existing immigration laws, border security, international trade, or even the US Constitution and Bill of Rights? Why on earth should we continually defer to lunatics like San Fran Nan, Shifty Schiff, Toad Nadler, Dick Blumenthal, Ho Harris, Spartacus Booker, Mad Maxine Waters, and others on ANY policy or piece of legislation that significantly impacts Americans? It’s frickin’ absurd.
Possibly even worse than the politicians are the Hollywood actors and actresses who are frequently trotted out by Democrats to convey their “vast knowledge” on left-wing subjects before Democrat-run committees in Congress. Hmmm. The only thing these people are “expert” at is in pretending to be other people (and some of them aren’t so good at doing that, either). And we’re supposed to be swayed by what they say on, say, nationalized medicine? Their opinions are as useful as those of street people!
What really stimulated my thoughts on the subject of deference – especially to members of Congress – was watching Corey Lewandowski’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. This was great political theater for a change.
Here we had Democrat representatives feigning outrage at Lewandowski, preening before TV cameras, and launching into ridiculous diatribes for political effect. And Lewandowski gave then just the right amount of respect – but no deference whatsoever!
His responses were the kind of responses for which I have been wishing and praying from ostensible Republicans to the likes of Nadler, Jackson-Lee and the rest for years! Well prepared, confident, not willing to give an inch, and not rolling over to Democrat presumptions. He bore their insults and verbal attacks without getting flustered and practically laughed in their faces at times. Made me laugh more than once, too! And the Democrats got NOTHING out of him to further their “impeachment inquiry.” Nothing! In fact, even the legacy media afterward castigated the Democrats for failing to properly interview Lewandowski and “wasting an opportunity to push the impeachment ball forward.” Lewandowski gave better than he got.
It’s amazing how some Republicans finally seem to have gotten a little spine in the Age of Trump, isn’t it? Even Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell have discovered their gonads over the past few months.
Back to the subject of deference. For years, I have had this print of a picture by the great American painter Norman Rockwell on my office wall as a daily reminder. It is entitled, “Freedom of Speech,” and a picture of a working man speaking truth to power and making his views known in a public meeting of some kind. It’s a direct example of what we as Americans should be doing on a regular basis, especially these days when so much corruption and criminality has been exposed! If anything, it properly reflects the deference of public servants toward average citizens, not the other way around! The political class and we need to be constantly reminded that they are to listen to and then serve us, not themselves!
Pompous windbags like Sheila Jackson-Lee berating private citizen Corey Lewandowski for crass political reasons are the antithesis of proper decorum and public service. Her performance was a direct result of the deference shown to the political class for decades. As an aside, I’d love to see her assets audited from top to bottom and her sources of income since election to Congress made widely known for her constituents to see. I’m sure that would be very illuminating. And the same goes for the rest of the contemptible fools.
How about liar Adam Schiff in his innumerable legacy media appearances over the past 2+ years in which he claimed to have the evidence necessary to “impeach the president” – which he couldn’t produce after the Mueller report was released? And then there’s his “parody” in an opening statement of the House Intelligence Committee about the President’s supposed extortion of Ukraine. It was a complete lie, as the telephone transcript summary of the two presidents’ phone call proved. Do we defer to him?
Should we show deference to Hillary Clinton who just called the president a “corrupt human tornado” while calling for his impeachment? The legacy media have been deferring to her for years, never challenging her about any of her egregious lies.
Then there is Fauxcahontas. Should we defer to her various pontifications about what policies she’d implement if elected president? The woman lied about her heritage to secure positions throughout her career. The legacy media have let her slide out of “deference,” too.
The list goes on and on. How many liars, knaves and thieves do you defer to in your private lives? I would wager not very many. Me neither.
The political class think that can say and do literally ANYTHING and get away with it and not be held accountable! They would do well to remember that there is no “royalty” in America, and the Founders and others fought a revolution to get out from under a tyrannical government. The political class demand deference from us yet fail miserably in their service obligations while taking advantages of perks that they give to themselves. I don’t think so! We should treat them just as we do credentialed people with whom we come in contact in our daily lives. Trust but verify. Confront them directly when they lie. Be courteous, but don’t be afraid to express your own opinion, particularly if it’s factual and contrary to what they bleat. Treat them with disdain when warranted. Inform others about their bad behavior, as appropriate. Follow the example of Corey Lewandowski and press other Republicans to do the same.
The political class need to earn our deference and respect – and that’s an EXTREMELY hard sell these days, especially with what we’ve seen lately. There are a lot of them who have demonstrated that they deserve no respect and certainly no deference. Let’s all deal with them accordingly – in the same manner as you would deal with others who violate trust in your daily lives. That is all that they deserve.