|Titles are society’s way for recognizing and designating the authority of a public or prominent figure. When such people retire from their position, we normally continue to address them by their last title.
Our traditional way of addressing a former holder of public office is to use the title of the last office held. Hence, people refer to Governor Bush, meaning Jeb, and President Bush, meaning either his father or older brother. If the last office was held by appointment, the same convention applies. Hence, General Colin Powell is referred to as Secretary Powell. General is an appointive position, as is Secretary of State, the last public office he held.
Where I find this traditional usage defective is the case of Senator Clinton. It’s true she was Secretary of State after her two terms representing New York in the Senate. But this form of address implies to most folks that her (outstanding) four years of service as President Obama’s first Secretary of State is somehow more worthy of honorable recognition than her (outstanding) eight years of service as a US Senator.
In my view her service in the Senate should rank higher. She was appointed to the office of Secretary, but she had to win her right from the voters of New York to serve in the Senate. To be selected to represent our country, she needed to earn the trust of Mr. Obama, but to be selected to represent the people of New York, she had to earn the trust of millions of some of the toughest-minded voters in the land.
In this of all years, voters should consider all her service as a senior public official. Hence, in this blog, we address her as Senator Clinton, and thus hopefully remind our readers: while the Donald was zooming about in his polluting private jumbo jet, from one of his golf courses to another, or lounging in his gold-plated palace in the sky, Senator Clinton gave eight additional years of her already full career of public service to the people and businesses of her adopted home state. While Trump played his money and power games, all the while looking down on the millions of New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet or secure justice, Senator Clinton was down there among them, working with them to survive and educate their children.