Monday, November 12, 2012

Taking the Oath

Constitutional Questions

The election is over. Barack Obama won. Much has been made of how the results show how divided the nation was and the legacy which may ensue.

I have been particularly struck by some of the comments of the losers – the Republican party and its supporters. I detect a kind of historical and anti-constitutional amnesia engulfing some the commentators and politicians. They should know better.

Time to get back to basics, perhaps.

I have sworn the oath of allegiance.

At the Induction Center in Kansas City I raised my right hand and said:

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

The President swears his oath in a slightly different form:

US Constitution, Article II, Section 1

Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Fine. So what exactly is the President to preserve, protect and defend? It's the Constitution stupid!

Have a look at the Preamble to the Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The important part here, in this context, is “promote the general Welfare”. The Founding Fathers were no saints, they were no real democrats either. But they what they believed in - “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”.

It's the powers given by consent that they were so keen on.

We have JKK to blame for some of the confusion. His famous contention that - "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country" is exactly and precisely wrong. The men who made the constitution knew this. The only reason to give up some powers to the government is because you expect to get something back. Otherwise all bets are off.

Anything which promotes the general welfare is part and parcel of what the constitution is about. People expect that the government will do things for them. They have a perfect right to expect this.

The Republican party seems to have lost sight of this fundamental idea. Their election campaign seemed to focus on small government (or no government at all). Their attempts to equate government plans and programs with some kind of socialist plot were misguided in the extreme.

The electors know this without being told.

They want the government to help them when they are in need. They want those with lots to be taxed lots. They want opportunity for all – but not at the expense of the people suffering hardships for which they are not really responsible.

To try and pretend that these principles are wrong is unconstitutional. Simple as that.

In order to rebuild a strong Republican party (essential for having a productive debate and a real two party system) the leaders and people with influence must stop blaming the electors and examine their principles. Let's get back to basics.

Support and defend the constitution. That's the American way.

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