Though I see it as a moral responsibility to respect the dignity and rights of all people, I cannot deny I have developed a simmering contempt for those who work in politics. Though such people may be personally pleasant, charming, and even moral, politics has a way of making good people do horrible things. Most people in politics deserve a firm spanking as punishment for their reckless behavior, but I suspect they would probably enjoy it too much.

There are, however, always exceptions to any rule. Occasionally, a politician does earn my admiration for what he says in the political arena.

Take, for instance, Thomas Gore.

He was a blind lawyer and populist U.S. Senator from the early 20th century who gave us one of the most moving anti-war statements of all time, channeling Shakespeare: “I tell you mothers now – I will never rob your cradles to feed the dogs of war.”

Senator Gore was also the grandfather of Gore Vidal, and given the way Vidal spoke of his grandpapa, Thomas Gore’s love for and influence over his grandson must have been remarkable. In his memoir, Palimpsest, Vidal recalled an ironic line his grandfather would often deliver, “Never have children, only grandchildren,” which would later be changed to the more misanthropic, “Be not fruitful, do not multiply.”

Though I only just stumbled across this advice, I find my life has been lived in accordance with it. I am a bachelor, I have no children, and this has mostly been all according to plan.

Yet, as my years continue to pass me by, I find myself yielding more and more to my paternal instincts. I see my friends who now have families, and it leads me to think how wonderful, awe-inspiring, and humbling it would be to have children of my own.

Watch out, ladies!

Where before I had an aversion to conversations over parenting, I now find my interest piqued. I more and more understand why hackneyed political slogans such as, “We must do this for the children” still carry so much currency in the political culture despite their mindless overuse. I now listen intently to parents and grandparents describe how they are raising their children and grandchildren in such a tumultuous world.

A radio caller, a mother, once raised an interesting dilemma with me about children and politics. She told me she had been raised by her father to respect the office of the Presidency no matter who resided in the White House. Her concern was that given the degree to which so many people have become utterly disrespectful towards Bush, Obama, Clinton, Trump, and Biden, how could she possibly teach her own child to respect the office of the Presidency?

She seemed genuine in her concern — genuinely worried her child would come to distrust the very institutions she was raised to revere. Hearing her worry, I could not help but think seriously of what I would teach my future children, especially given my own disposition towards the political arena.

Again, I usually hold nothing but contempt for politicians, especially the feds, yet I wondered: is this truly the example I wish to set for my children?

In a word, yes.

Most people have this whole matter of hating the person but respecting the office backward. I would rather we respect the person (if they indeed deserve our respect) and disdain the power. I venture that most of the disrespectful vitriol directed towards politicians is not produced by a contempt for politics itself (as I am suggesting here) but by an unhealthy, partisan, and unrequited lust for political power’s false promises. The people wrongfully place their hopes in political power only to rightfully suspect and damn anyone (of the wrong party, of course) who dares to use it to their disappointment.

In particular, the worship of the Presidential Chair is one of the most egregious aspects of modern American political culture. The cult of personality surrounding the nation’s top office waxes and wanes in its fervor depending on the person in power, but what remains constant is a belief in the power of one person to represent, lead, administer, placate, ingratiate, mislead, murder, steal, defraud, and overall act like a clever ass in the name of the people — that is, the President is expected to perform all those actions necessary for ruling over a nation.

This belief is held in common across the political spectrum, and the competition between factional interests for Presidential power only perfects the office’s pageantry. Accordingly, the power and prestige surrounding the office of the Presidency (as well as the federal government itself) has slowly been exalted to the point of near deification. And while this larger-than-life mythical show of the Presidency and Washington D.C. has only continued to grow, the people back home continue to lose interest in the independence, initiatives and ordered liberty of their local communities and institutions.

This brings me to how I answered our radio mother. Despite her inherited respect for the office of the Presidency, I told her I would not teach my children to respect the office itself. I will, instead, teach my children to first respect themselves, and then teach them the golden rule in regard to others. I will teach my children to respect people's innate and demonstrated dignity and worth — not necessarily people’s positions of power.

Naked power and status does not deserve our respect and adoration, son, virtuous people do, no matter their given position in society. If only we could see ourselves as everyday local citizens and stop giving our attention and unearned respect to the spectacle of Washington DC and its Presidents, we and our children would be the better for it.

And despite my life being a model of Thomas Gore’s sardonic advice up to this point — be not fruitful, do not multiply — I hope one day I will be able to teach my own children these very lessons.

Joey Clark is a native Alabamian and currently the host of the radio program News and Views on News Talk 93.1 FM WACV out of Montgomery, AL M-F 9 am-12noon. To contact Joey for media or speaking appearances as well as any feedback please email The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to