After elected officials leave office, we still refer to them by their former title. Particularly with regard to former U.S. presidents, state governors, and city mayors, e.g. President Bush, President Clinton, Governor Romney, Mayor Giuliani, Secretary Clinton. A bit less formal we also hear Mr. President Bush, or Mr. Governor (So-and-so).
I find it absolutely repulsive we refer to former elected officials by their former public title. Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution states, in part: “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States….” Additionally, Article I, Section 10 says States may not grant titles of nobility.
Alexander Hamilton wrote, in May 1788, Federalist Paper #84:
“Nothing need be said to illustrate the importance of the prohibition of titles of nobility. This may truly be denominated the corner stone of republican government; for so long as they are excluded, there can never be serious danger that the government will be any other than that of the people.”
During the time in which our elected officials hold office it is right and proper to address them by title of office. It is the OFFICE we honor—not the person holding the office. The honor of holding office is not the property of the person who holds that office; the honor of the office is the property of the American people. Former elected officials do NOT inherit the honor of the office, carrying it with them beyond their elected term. The honor of the office passes to whomever the people elect to hold it next.
We do NOT have titles of nobility in America. Make no mistake, calling a former president “President (last name)” or former governor “Mr. Governor (last name)” is bestowing a person a subtle yet significant honor that no longer belongs to them. An “honorable” title implies privilege—rights that do not extend to “commoners.” The Leftist media is notoriously sympathetic to titles of nobility.
(In fact, I’ve fallen prey to this very “Leftist” custom in my own posts! It never felt quite right referring to former elected officials by their former title. Now I understand why.)
Titles of nobility divide a people and destroy the very nature of individual unalienable rights.
Do we honor personal accomplishments? Of course! But you don’t get to inherit a public title to which you no longer have claim. Titles of office are not passed down to persons; the honor remains present in the office itself—and to whomever presently holds it.
When U.S. presidents leave office, they return to their lives as regular American citizens. Former presidents should be addressed like the rest of us—Mr. or Ms. (last name.) Doing so reminds us the honor of the office is the office itself. The office is a great privilege and responsibility owned in trust by the American people. This is the spirit of our Founding Fathers’ intentions.