“Our Federal Family”

When state actors start talking as though we are their family, I wonder if they see themselves as Big Brother or Our Father.

Dear Kathleen Sebelius: You are my fellow citizen, my servant (as a government official), my enemy (as somebody making war on the Church), and my sister only in Christ. You are not my family-in-Caesar. Caesar has no children. He has subjects and if he his not checked he has slaves and victims.

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  • Steve

    Well… that’s creepy beyond all belief.

  • Alma Peregrina

    Some 40 years ago, Portugal had a dictator (Marcello Caetano) who regularly made public speeches on national television. He made those speeches in a cozy room and an informal atmosphere. Those speeches were called “Family chats”.

    Needless to say, Marcello interfered in every sphere of public life… Even religion.

    At that time, the USA looked suspiciously to our regime (even though they tolerated it, since the Cold War was going on and it was a right-wing dictatorship). But the US was constantly pressuring the regime to democratize itself.

    Now, you guys are going down that same road… Sad.

  • Del Sydebothom

    That is interesting insofar as that, naturalistically it would appear as though family is the *origin* of government. At the most basic level, I am thinking of a travelling band of hunter-gatherers, whose self-governance is rooted in family ties. At more developed level, we can see things like patriarchal clans, with a father figure who either *is* the father of the clan, or his heir. Maybe our ancient human instincts make it impossible to avoid trying to make an artificial structure like a nation-state more closely resemble such natural societies. I don’t know. I’m just spitballing.

  • CrustyNatsFan

    I can’t buy these apples, Mark. I came across Ms. Sebelius’ comments via another outlet and they seemed rather mundane when put in the context that she was referring to the federal workforce and federal agencies collectively as a “family” to respond to natural disasters. Her comments certainly do not seem to suggest any grander statement about a citizen’s relationship to his/her government. To me it seemed like she was using a common metaphor to reference collective groups. I should also add that living in DC, I have frequently heard the term “federal family” used refer to the federal civil service, just as some bloggers on this website might refer to the “Patheos family.” There are a lot of things we can find to debate with Ms. Sebelius. I just don’t think this is a very good one. Small potatoes.

  • Loretta

    I was a career Federal employee. My husband was a career Federal employee. My father in law, and his father in law before him, were also career Federal employees. Most Federal employees spend more time with other Federal employees than they do with their own families. I made enduring friendships among my co-workers. Behind the great monolith of “Federal” government you will find millions and millions of dedicated employees who really do take their oaths of office seriously (yes, each and every one of us takes an oath!). And maybe a few who don’t, to be sure. Mark, you are dead wrong on this one. I am personally offended, brother.