American political titles should not be treated like titles of nobility.
A. Barton Hinkle writes:
The protesters and rioters who have been swarming streets are right: Donald Trump is not their president.
He is not your president, either. He won’t be until Jan. 20.
This might seem like a petty quibble, but it shouldn’t. It gets to a point that has fallen out of favor in recent years, and needs reviving.
The late Robert Peniston was a Richmonder who had served as navigator aboard the presidential yacht during Harry Truman’s administration. According to Peniston, he dropped in on the retired Truman in Independence, Mo., some years later. When he addressed Truman as “Mr. President,” Truman corrected him. There is only one president of the United States, Truman insisted: the one in the Oval Office. Peniston could call him “Mr. Truman.”
This comes as news to the folks at the Truman Library, who say others often addressed Truman as Mr. President without any objection from him. Still, it’s an appealing story—one that speaks to our general belief in the equal dignity of individuals regardless of rank or social class.