It depends

Daily Kos: Titles

Senator Clinton wants to be called “Hillary”, so she gets called “Hillary”. But I have a problem with this:

I don’t go around calling people by their last names. I actually have a quick way of gauging how “grounded” a politician is. Upon first meeting them, I refer to them by their first name. If they flinch (and it happens), I immediately form a negative opinion. If they don’t, then I feel more at ease with the person. Schmitt suggests first-name use breeds a false sense of familiarity. I agree, but unlike Schmitt, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Politics should be personal, not the domain of Greek Gods on Mt. Olympus, far removed from the plebes below.

People may talk about “respecting the office” and all that jazz, but I’m not interested. What some consider disrespect, I consider an homage to our representative democracy. They are OUR employees, not royalty.

That’s one way of looking at it. On the other hand, I don’t think you call anyone by their first name if you’re not a friend or family member, and you certainly don’t call someone significantly older than you by their first name. Kos is six months younger than I; any Presidential candidate would be older than us. (Well, I’m 35 so I guess someone my age could run, but none is, at least nobody of significance.) Obama is the youngest, and he’s ten years older. In writing, I would call the junior senator from New York “Hillary”, and have. But to her face, she would be “Senator Clinton” or “Mrs. Clinton”. That isn’t about politics, that’s simple civility.

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7 responses to “It depends

  1. e. nonee moose

    That isn’t about politics, that’s simple civility.

    You’re so Southern sometimes, Mac. :)

  2. Mac’s right, though. It’s simple good manners. The junior Senator from Illinois is 10 years younger than I am, but respect for the office he holds compels me to use the title if I happened to be in the same room with him.

  3. I agree with using civil terms to address people. I get a little overwhelmed by the official honorifics, though. Perhaps Kos’ point is more applicable to the notion of abolishing “The Honorable” when printing the name of a member of congress.

  4. Nice to see that simple civility and good manners aren’t obsolete. May we see more of it over the next 2 years.

  5. I always called her “Mrs. Clinton”. I can’t imagine calling someone by their first name unless they say it’s okay.

  6. Yes, you are so Southern, Mac, and that’s a good thing. Showing respect always makes a good first impression.

  7. Unless the person involved was a minor, I would always use the honorific when addressing a stranger. And unless I was especially close to the woman involved, I would always use “Ms.” rather than “Miss” or “Mrs.”, even if I knew her marital status. Using a term like that, or the first name of an individual, is an honor that should be extended by the recipient, and not assumed by myself.

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