At our republic’s founding, there was a debate over what to call the president. Should he be “His Highness?” Maybe “His Excellency?” John Adams wanted to refer to George Washington as “His Highness, the President of the United States of America, and Protector of the Rights of the Same.”
But Washington would have none of it. America had fought a revolution to rid the country of titles like “Lord” and “Earl.” He would be known simply as “president.” In fact, titles of all kinds were shunned by those in government and a tradition grew up that eschewed any kind of honorific.
But this is the 21st century and some of our lords and masters in Congress get upset when we don’t address them by their proper title. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is always looking to be offended by something, found it in the vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris.
For the record @Mike_Pence, it’s Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez to you.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 8, 2020
Pence had referred to Ocasio-Cortez by her popularly-used initials “AOC” during the debate, disparaging Harris for co-sponsoring the Green New Deal environmental policy legislation “with AOC when she submitted it in the Senate.”
Pence also suggested that Biden covertly supports the Green New Deal, although the former vice president has explicitly said he does not. Pence insisted that Biden’s own environmental policy is not “very different.”
For the record, congresswoman, it’s gauche to demand respect — especially when you’ve shown you have no respect for the one you are chastizing. It’s like humble bragging — without the humble part.
Ocasio-Cortez, like many on the Hill, has had power go to her head. She has a couple of million Twitter followers and the liberal media hangs on her every word. But it’s still unseemly and arrogant to demand others show her respect by using her title. Respect should be earned by how you treat others. I daresay she could learn a lot from Mike Pence about how to treat others.
If she had said that only her friends call her “AOC,” that would have been acceptable. But she was objecting to Pence not using her honorific. That’s a special kind of arrogance we see from PhDs who demand they be called “doctor.”
We don’t recognize titles in America. Most representatives prefer to be addressed as “Mr.” or “Mrs.”
When addressing a representative personally, address him or her as “Mr./Mrs./Ms.,” followed by the representative’s last name. The informal honorifics “Congressman,” “Congresswoman,” or “Representative” may be used as an alternative, if your representative prefers. If you’re not sure how your representative prefers to be addressed, Mr, Mrs, and Ms. are always appropriate.
Barbara Boxer scolded a general during a hearing for calling her “ma’am” by saying, “Don’t call me ma’am. call me ‘senator.'” Even being respectful isn’t good enough.