Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Let's Be Honest, Shall We?


I had a frightening thought while I was in the bathroom the other day*.

In this crazy time in American history, a lot of people are espousing all sorts of ideas, wrapping themselves in the Constitution as if they knew what it said other than “God says you can have all the guns you want.” We have people who want to be president advocating blatantly unconstitutional actions**, and we have sitting senators glibly spreading a quasi-Constitutional gloss over transparently political maneuvers***.

The frightening thought I had on my porcelain throne was this: if even our elected leaders, and those who seek the nation’s highest office, either don’t understand or choose to ignore the Constitution they invoke so piously, we’re screwed.

I thought about this in the context of the oath I took as a brand new Air Force Second Lieutenant in 1973, that I re-took with each promotion over the next 23 years, and that I administered to my son on his commissioning in the Air Force:

"I (name) do solemnly swear to 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."

Military officers do not swear allegiance to the nation, the President, or the Congress … we swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. We take this so seriously that many officers stationed here in Washington, DC, choose to take their oaths in front of the actual Constitution, which is on display in the National Archives.

Enlisted personnel take an oath of enlistment which also invokes the Constitution, but is different from the oath taken by officers:

"I, (name), 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 major difference is that enlisted personnel swear also to obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me. The reason is, of course, that military discipline requires soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who will not just blindly follow orders, but will follow orders according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Specific mention of the President underscores the tradition of civilian control of the military … you may recall that the Constitution specifies that the President is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces (Article II, Section 2).

Now, we’ve established that military personnel swear allegiance to the Constitution rather than to the President or Congress, and that’s a good thing. But what happens when those at the highest levels – as I wrote above – either don’t understand or choose to ignore the Constitution that they invoke so piously. Who interprets what the Constitution actually means?

Under our system of government, Congress makes the laws, the President executes the laws, and the Judiciary interprets the laws. This means it’s the Supreme Court that provides the interpretation when required … most certainly not Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell†††, or John Cornyn.

Senators, if you want to play political games, go ahead. But be honest about it … don’t drape the Constitution on your ploys like cheap festoons on an idol. By doing so, you insult those who take their Constitutional responsibilities seriously ... and who, unlike you, run the risk of dying for them.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

* Don’t laugh … it’s where I do some of my best thinking.

** Yes, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, I’m talking to you.

*** Yes Senators McConnell and Cornyn, I’m talking to you. And yes, I’m sure many of you can quote lots of Democratic senators who have done similar things … which, of course, excuses the present bad behavior.

† The language is specified in law: 5 USC 3331.

†† The language is specified in law: 10 USC 502.

††† Speaking of Senator McConnell, you may not have been aware that under his interpretation of the Constitution,
the approvals of the National Rifle Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses are required as a qualification for service on the Supreme Court.

11 comments:

eViL pOp TaRt said...

It's obvious that several senators either don't understand the constitution or are distorting it to their own advantage. McConnell for Assclown this Friday!

Linda Kay said...

How about those leaders who decide to take laws into their own hands, ignoring the Constitution?

Gonzo Dave said...

I wonder if "We the People" could file a public lawsuit against "Them the Senators" to get them to do their jobs with respect to "advis[ing] and consent[ing]" on the President's pick for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court?

The Mistress of the Dark said...

The founding fathers are rolling over in their graves for some of the mularkey that is going on now.

There are only one or two senators that have a clue these days.

Kristen Drittsekkdatter said...

Senators should not be a rubber stamp, but.....they should get off their duffs and give someone nominated by the President a fare hearing and not just say they won't play.

John Hill said...

Most disturbing is that the people that continue to vote for these multi-term representatives don't understand that their elected officials either don't understand the Constitution or purposefully choose to misuse or ignore it!

Big Sky Heidi said...

Vote them all out!

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

There's a lot of posturing about the Constitution.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

My state is in the toilet right now.

allenwoodhaven said...

I second the nomination of Mitch McConnell for AC of this biweekly cheek. And I love Gonzo Dave's idea of We the People suing Them the Senators; truly inspired! Oaths should be made solemnly and kept without prevarication. Good post.

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