Elected officials break the law without fear of retrebution.
Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord (Matt. 5:33).
I consider myself to be an average American. I worked an average job, drove an average car, and lived the average life. In the past, I’ve been pretty accurate at predicting which way society would lean on certain issues in these United States. Not that I’m all that smart, but I simply consider how I feel about this and that, and then I have a good idea how the rest of the country may be thinking. Well, at least, the average Americans.
The average American will swear to only a few oaths during his life. Certainly, the Pledge of Allegiance might be the first. We might swear to tell the truth in court, but very few will incriminate themselves. Those in law enforcement will swear to uphold the law on the local level and it’s the same up on Capitol Hill. For all, the oath signifies a public statement of personal commitment.
In 1968 I took an oath to defend the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and became a Private E1 in the United States Army. I was very serious about upholding this oath and I was very careful not to break it. As a soldier, the oath gave me reason to keep my back straight, my chin up, and my heart in the right place.
That oath is also a statement that I will take personal responsibility for my actions. My oath had no time limit so as far as I am concerned it is still in effect. There are serious consequences for those who break their oaths of military service, and there’s a Federal Prison at Fort Leavenworth to house them when the oath is broken. Military service is a serious duty and in certain circumstances, a broken oath can lead to your execution before a firing squad.
Article 6 of the Constitution states that, “Before mentioned, Senators and Representatives and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution.”
The first oath was short and to the point: “I, A.B., do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.” Their oath requires them to support and defend the Constitution — not the president, not the country, not the flag, and not a particular corporation or industry.
Elected officials swear to defend against, “All Enemies, Foreign and Domestic,” and that they, “Will Bear True Faith and Allegiance to the same.” As an average American, that seems pretty simple to me. It’s right there in black and white.
In the final analysis, however, loyalty depends upon the integrity of the individual. In the last decade or so, the oaths of Capitol Hill have changed, relieving elected officials of any retribution from breaking their oath. The words “Solemnly swear or affirm that I will truly and faithfully discharge the duties of my said office, to the best of my knowledge and abilities.”
Thus, if you give the best effort to the best of your knowledge, even wrong becomes right. For example, torture is acceptable as long as you change the meaning of torture so that it does not include “water-boarding.”
You’d think that depending on the conduct and the statute violated by elected officials, the penalties for breaking an oath could include criminal penalties, ouster or personal liability. Sorry, not so. There is no punishment for violating your oath and breaking the Constitution. Many of the laws on the books right now encourage us to break the Constitution/oath. The system is looking pretty hopeless.
In the end, it’s alright to lie about weapons of mass destruction as long as you don’t intend to or knowingly lie under oath. Without fear of retribution, there’s nothing to guide elected officials when they face conflicts of interest and hard choices.
America’s democratic system often proves frustrating for average citizens like me.