Presidential candidates work hard to convince ordinary Americans that they’re just like us. Regular folks. Put their pants on one leg at a time, you betcha.
But nobody clears the airspace for me when I fly into a city.
Nor, I bet, do federal agents cordon off several blocks around venues in which you’re scheduled to speak, restricting people who don’t like you to “free speech zones” for the duration of your visit.
And if either of us puts the pedal to the metal and flies down Interstate 89 at more than 90 miles per hour to keep appointments in Keene, Claremont and Concord, New Hampshire, we’ll be lucky if we get off with stern lectures and expensive tickets.
Hillary Clinton gets a Secret Service escort. The police don’t even consider pulling her over for a ticket. They’re there to make sure all us regular people — you know, the ones she’s just like — keep ourselves out of her way.
No, I’m not picking on Hillary. It’s all of them. I can cite experiences, my own and those of friends, going back to 1992 revealing the same disregard for the rules that bind everyone else.
In 1992, the Secret Service searched the apartment of a friend of mine for no other reason than that it happened to overlook president George H.W. Bush’s motorcade route. Later that fall, my future wife was ordered to finish her meal and clear out of a restaurant immediately. Because Bush wanted to eat there.
In 2000, police ordered me to walk about three miles out of my way to reach a “free speech zone.” Mere mortals were excluded from the streets surrounding the building where vice president Al Gore and presidential candidate George W. Bush were scheduled to “debate” (read: Tell us how much like us they are, just regular folks, folks).
In 2008, US Highway 65 between Springfield and Branson, Missouri was cleared of mere mundanes so presidential candidate John McCain’s motorcade could pass through. The local newspaper dutifully noted its police-escorted speed of 100 miles per hour.
These things aren’t the exceptions. They’re the rule. The political class is not like the rest of us. They’re not regular folks.
And I guess that’s OK. It would be a shame for any of them to be late to the microphones from which they lecture us on the importance of the rule of law.
Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.
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