Editor’s Note: Jennifer Miller is the mother of three boys. She graduated from the University of Oregon in 1994 and earned an MBA in 2003. Miller has a full-time career as a health care product manager and volunteers with her sons’ Boy Scout troop. The views expressed in this commentary are hers.
Jennifer Miller: Louise Linton's Instagram comment shows she is out of touch with the Americans she claims to sacrifice for
As the wife of a public servant, it would behoove Linton to be sensitive to the struggles of everyday Americans, she writes.
My friends and family will tell you that I have a big heart and am very caring, but that I’m also snarky and unafraid to call things like I see them. I did that to Louise Linton on Instagram the other day, referring to her post about her designer labels as “deplorable.”
I stand by that sentiment. To see someone in her position – married to a wealthy former Wall Street executive who is now secretary of the treasury and affects national economic policy – hashtag her luxury purchases when so many Americans are suffering economically is, well, deplorable.
She chose to respond in a way that only clarified her privilege by extolling her wealth and position. In a follow-up post on Instagram, she said I was out of touch, which I find incredibly laughable. I don’t think she has any idea what everyday Americans deal with, especially when it comes to economic struggles. Since her husband is secretary of the treasury, it behooves her to find out.
And while she has since apologized for her insensitive post, nothing she says now can negate the fact that her initial response to my frustration was to continue bragging about her wealth and to allege that her contributions to society have been more significant than mine.
Americans are hurting – some even dying – as they struggle with racism, poverty and health care costs. And yet the wealthy Linton defends her boasting and derides me, a hardworking, taxpaying American, in the process. Her husband serves in the executive branch of our government. At the very least, she owes the American people the appearance of compassion and, to use her own word, humanity.
If you’re going to work in our government, or choose to be the very visible spouse of a high-ranking government official, you have a duty to care about the citizens of the country you serve. You also have a duty to listen.
Linton responded to my Instagram post challenging me to compose a “nice message” filled with wisdom and humanity. Well, I’m doing it now, Ms. Linton, and I hope you’re listening. If you’d like to do the same, I will also listen, because you got at least one thing right: I am a nice person. Make that two things – my kids are cute. I’m also level-headed and intelligent. My message: You’re a prominent person now, Linton, so please use your influence for good.
Words are incredibly important. In this digital age of social media and 24/7 news cycles, what we say and do carries so much meaning. Even citizens like me can gain attention for the words we choose. Linton chose to demonstrate her wealth and privilege and then chose to belittle me. And yes, I chose to call her behavior deplorable. I do not regret it, however, because if this pushes us toward a little perspective, empathy and understanding, the words will have mattered.