Pledge: a solemn promise or undertaking.
Oath: a solemn promise, often invoking a divine witness, regarding one’s future action or behavior.
Definitions presented above are to curtail arguments based upon semantics.
I admit that my opinion below is not new or the result of any divine intervention. I created this little video 3 years ago after a weekend of playing around with different freeware animation and voice programs. Tech quality aside, I thought the pledge itself represented an accurate portrayal of Congressional campaigning then and still today.
This week’s GOP Convention and the criticisms levied at Ted Cruz for his speech, however, have cemented this idea as to what is most important to some, and it isn’t the United States of America or necessarily money.
The Cruz convention address is linked below
A video example of the criticism from Trump supporters, Republicans, Tea Partiers, Conservatives, and practically anyone else who begins or concludes any modern presidential election discussion with a condemnation of Hillary Clinton as the predominate or single message is linked below.
[Note: The hatchet-man approach of attacking an opponent is not new, but I’m pressed to recall when supporters relied upon the strategy exclusively without at least a single specific about how their candidate could do better. I should confess that I knew nothing about Tomi Lahren of TheBlaze TV until about 1 month ago, and not so much with this presentation but with others I think she needs something, anything, factual in terms of US History, World History, American Government, IR, or Comparative Politics to have any actual credibility].
If one wants a more mainstream report, ABC News has another video example which is linked below.
That’s the backdrop.
Have you ever just sat back and pondered about oaths and pledges?
For whatever reasons, I had not thought about it in great detail. Regardless of whether my perspective was personal, historical in US History, or legal, I just became engrossed by the magnitude as I reflected.
Article II Section I of the US Constitution contains the oath of office an individual must take before entering into the office of President.
“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.”
Many readers remember taking this oath recorded at 10 U.S. Code § 502.
Each person enlisting in an armed force shall take the following oath:
“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.”
More information about military oaths for enlisted personnel or officers can be read at the following:
Elected officials take oaths of office, and a basic overview of the history in the United States can be read at the following:
Naturalized citizens must take an oath of allegiance to the United States of America before being recognized as a citizen of this country. More information about that oath is available at the following:
As Americans we recite the Pledge of Allegiance “…to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands….”
A brief summary which does include information about the Bellamy salute and the later inclusion of the words “under God” can be read at the link below:
That’s quite a number of pledges and oaths that are common in American life, and we haven’t even touched upon areas such as marriage or devotion to family. Some may argue that the following Biblical passage is different from an oath or a pledge, but for me it always comes to mind whenever I think of allegiance. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24, King James Version).
With the GOP and their nominee for President of the United States of America, the actions before, during, and now following the convention have all stressed to me what they pledge allegiance and to what they take their initial oath. Some may disagree but in my opinion it’s neither God nor country, but the political party which is held most important and above all others.
Consider that in the midst of primaries and caucuses, GOP party officials requested that individuals vying for the nomination sign a Pledge.
“I ______ affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for president of the United States, I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is.
I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.”
The original intent was to discourage Donald Trump from seeking the presidency as an independent or on the ticket of a third party. The early televised debates saw moderators ask the candidates specifically if they agreed and signed the pledge. All, including the ultimate party nominee Donald Trump, signed.
It is the backing out of this pledge, for whatever reason given publically or held privately, that members of the GOP hold against Ted Cruz and others who sought the nomination such as John Kasich.
It’s not voting for who the voter feels is the best person to fulfill the duties of the elected office.
The party expects loyalty to the party to be greater than the union itself, the United States of America.
To vote according to one’s conscience is considered a wrong.
Freedom has been usurped not by the government but by the party who seeks to be the elected representatives to the government.
I have friends who in my opinion are more qualified and better professors of United States History than I am, who suggest that this GOP pledge and similar loyalty oaths by conservative groups are not necessarily authoritarianism but reflective of nationalism and love of country. They propose that the modern conservative movement in the United States believes that the intent of the Founding Fathers has been lost within today’s politically correct environment.
My concern with that explanation is that when these learned individuals speak of originalism in theory, they tend to incorporate subsequent changes as part of originalism when those adaptations were positive in their opinion. They do not disclose an acceptance that the country following the Populist Period and Progressive Era of the late 19th and early 20th century was and remains significantly different in constitutional interpretations than it was at the time of ratification. For example, nobody wants a return of slavery. Nobody seems outraged that the votes for President and Vice-President are now separated. While perhaps desired by some, nobody is going to campaign with the proposal to end the secret ballot.
It’s my opinion only, but to attempt to have originalism while including some but excluding other revisions is hypocritical. It’s an either or proposition. If a change goes against original intent, then the method to rectify that mistake is via another amendment such as done in regard to prohibition.
If someone is calling for originalism but yet requires a pledge to a political party, they not only diminish the country but disrespect our history and our Founding Fathers.
How can one argue otherwise, when the ideas of George Washington are crumbled up and tossed aside like trash?
Consider the document that is now known as Washington’s Farewell Address:
The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.
For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.
Our first President continued:
I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.
There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.
Today it seems that the self-proclaimed patriots; Americans who love their country; serve another first before country.
That is party; factionalism that George Washington attempted to warn his future generations against.
Loyalty is not to country.
That oath upon entering the military with the phrase “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,” seems of little meaning if one disrespects the President.
I know, some will counter that it really isn’t different with the Democratic party. I agree but that doesn’t change anything with the modern Republican party.
I know some will counter that the President is an enemy to the country and to the Constitution.
To believe that, however, is to accept that President Barack Obama has been convicted with neither trial nor jury because judgment rests in political party.
To believe that, however, is to accept that Hillary Clinton should be convicted and jailed although few people seem able to cite the actual charges for which she was investigated.
Given the amount of time and funds spent on investigations, she is either not guilty of the charges levied or those who believe that she is guilty are too incompetent to prove guilt even by a preponderance of evidence, let alone reasonable doubt. (Note, however, that a decision of not guilty is not the same as being innocent).
The guilt, the fault, the failure of America and a necessity to “Make American Great Again” are the determinations of a political party that expects blind allegiance before any thought of country.
If the United States of America is so bad today, then doesn’t the blame rest with us all?
Granted we have a number of problems and issues that require responsiveness and have lacked the attention necessary. We are not a utopia, but we have never been a utopia.
We all have to work together. We have to learn to live together. We must be confident enough to sacrifice in order to have. That’s the basic concept of originalism as the country transitioned from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution of the United States of America.
Can any identify where in the Constitution the Founding Fathers argue that freedom and other fundamental rights are vested in the Republican party or conservative movement of today? They have not been vested in the Democratic party, and what had been liberal propositions such as abolishing slavery, including women in the franchise right, are now ingrained that originalism is unthinkable.
How is it possible, however, to accept and champion a loyalty to party first as patriotic and the intent of our Founding Fathers?
That’s what the GOP expects and requires to be one of them. It’s not US History, but World History that is ripe with examples of nationalism run amuck and loyalty to a faction is conveyed as the same as love of country. Do we want that here?
How else can one interpret that pledge and all the hoopla when someone does not toe the line?
Who will they deem the next enemy?
Perhaps we should all look closely our mirrors?
That’s a reason to be afraid.