A New Pledge of Allegiance
Bouncing checks and broken balances
In the past few weeks we have witnessed the conclusion of a rigged impeachment inquiry, a State of the Union address in which the President refused to shake hands with the Speaker of the House, and that same Speaker rip up the President’s speech on live television. One would think that that’s enough childish games for one month; that things in Washington would return to “normal”.
But since these events, we have now witnessed:
- A President interfere in a Justice Department case against a convicted federal felon (who just happens to be a political supporter) and threaten a federal judge about to sentence the convict
- The Attorney General telling the President to stop interfering, and the President asserting a “legal right” to do what ever he wants
- A President remove a Lt. Colonel (and his brother) from the National Security Council staff and fire the ambassador to the European Union because they complied with congressional subpoenas during the impeachment inquiry
- A President commute the sentence of a former Illinois governor convicted of trying to sell the US Senate seat vacated by President Obama
- A President ignoring clear warnings from intelligence agencies that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election; he fired the acting Director of National Intelligence the day after he briefed Congress about the threat, as required by law.
Are the above actions legal and constitutional? Yes. Do they conform to norms of behavior expected of our Congress and President? Not at all.
Let’s compare the views of our very first and our current president:
I had the honor of meeting with a co-founder of NoLabels.org and former Director of National Intelligence recently. He concurred that this President is breaking all the norms of behavior, and it appears that Congress is standing idly by.
In their book, “How Democracies Die”, Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt track the history of many democracies including that of the United States. They conclude that a combination of weakened institutions and failure to observe norms of behavior lead to the failures of democracies.
But I frequently hear this argument: “We’re not a democracy. We’re a republic.” As if to say, “Get over it. This is how it’s supposed to work.” Nonsense. In a future post, we’ll thoroughly debunk this misconstruction. For now, suffice it to say that we’re a representative democracy or democratic republic. Either term is accurate. We democratically elect leaders to represent us. And we expect those leaders to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, including the checks and balances.
It’s clear they aren’t. The leaders we elect are engaged in tribal warfare. A government built on the idea of partisanship with compromise has devolved to tribal warfare.
As a result, we are in a rolling constitutional crisis. Our politistress is at an all-time high.
The New Pledge of Allegiance
We need to press the reset button. We need to get back to basics. We need to remind our elected leaders of their responsibility to uphold the Constitution. In fact, they need a daily reminder.
So here’s a radical idea: let’s rewrite the Pledge of Allegiance. Instead of pledging allegiance to a symbol of our country, the flag, let’s pledge allegiance to the bedrock of the country itself, the U.S. Constitution.
This pledge says that we cherish our government and the rights it defines. It says that we won’t let political parties divide us any more. It says that we are united to create a common good. And it says that we want liberty and justice for all. Could anyone in their right mind disagree with this?
What can I do now?
I’m glad you asked. Help this go viral. Think of this as the coopera-virus (as in, let’s cooperate).
Here’s your to-do list:
- Share this new Pledge of Allegiance with everyone you know. And people you barely know (i.e. on social media)
- Send this to your Representative and Senator and ask them to take this pledge each and every day.
- Ask every candidate running for office to take this pledge.
This may seem silly. Will it really make a difference? I don’t know. But we have to start somewhere. It might as well be at the beginning.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead
Think this is worthless? A stupid idea? You have a better one? Comments are welcome.