THE SECURITY OF A FREE STATE-Part I
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; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
If and when the U.S. Congress purports to legislate in response to the Newtown, Conn. school massacre, I have no doubt that they will do so irresponsibly and incompetently. Their first sworn duty is to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” But these days they invariably treat their oath as an irrelevant formality. Traumatic events inevitably generate enormous pressures. Senators and Representatives in the U.S. Congress are prone to do whatever they believe will ward off the furious emanations of what they perceive as public opinion. So those positioned to manufacture this or that transient perception of the public’s mind end up storming the Congress, with results that invariably serve some more or less obvious factional agenda, rather than the common good.
If most members of Congress had any inclination to fulfill their sworn responsibility to the Constitution, their first concern would be to make sure that it weathers each and every such storm. Whatever the danger threatening the nation, the integrity of the Constitution would always be the first thing they secured from destruction. In light of this responsibility, their ability to craft legislation that safeguards it, while also dealing effectively with the exigencies of the moment, should be considered the sine qua non of their competence as legislators. If they purport to “fix the problem”, or address it in a way with legislation that that damages or destroys the integrity of the Constitution, their resulting acts should be condemned as irresponsible and incompetent.
Hence the expectation with which this article began. Though people like Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner hold up their hands and mouth the words of their oath of office, their record clearly proves that they regard it as a pointless formality. Well known is the episode in which Pelosi hardly bothered to conceal her derision when asked whether she thought Obamacare was Constitutional. Boehner appears to pride himself on his ability to sully the Republican name by whipping the GOP majority into voting for measures like the surrender of the House’s Constitutionally prescribed and exclusive duty to take the initiative on revenue raising measures, like raising the debt ceiling. And in like fashion, most members of Congress, Democrat or Republican, won’t even whisper the phrase “natural born citizen”, much less acknowledge that the words define a requirement, imposed by the Supreme Law of the Land, for occupying the office of President.
These forsworn official derelicts pretend that what they do is necessary in order to deal with critical situations that threaten the nation’s security and well-being. They contend that, whatever the Constitution says, to deal with terrorism, rights must be sacrifice; to protect our innocent children, rights must be sacrificed. To bring health care to all, avoid the “fiscal cliff”, and promote world peace and progress- rights must be sacrificed.
I suspect that most of the elitist faction leaders who make these false claims are purposely using various crises as excuses for destroying the authority of our Constitution. Most of the rest fall prey to their own incapacity. Pro forma, many readily enough profess allegiance to the Constitution; most refer to “rights” in one context or another; some even occasionally acknowledge the importance of “limited government” and “liberty”. But do any of them have a clear sense of the logic and reasoning that makes these concepts vital to the intellectual and spiritual substance that, when mixed with the life’s blood and devotion of faithful patriots, provides the poured foundations of constitutional self-government in America? Most of them still speak the words “So Help me God” in their formal swearing-in, but when else, in an officially political context, do they mention God without apology or some other “mental reservation or purpose of evasion?”
In the days ahead, as they react to the pressure of events and opinion generated by the Connecticut school massacre, many members of Congress will pretend to acquit their obligations as legislators without carefully taking into account their duty to respect the premise of God-endowed right from which all government derives its just powers; in particular, the Constitutional government of the United States. If only they would begin, as their oath requires, by taking into account their primary duty to support and defend the Constitution. With reasonable ease they could produce legislation that secures our safety, and that of our children. And they would do so by respecting our God-endowed rights, instead of destroying them. When rightly understood, liberty is the way to safety, not something to be sacrificed in the false hope of securing it. In my next post we think through the reasonable deliberations that justify this statement, and in the process introduce the simple and comprehensive steps that could produce the result it envisions, something all true Americans earnestly desire.