Friday, September 2, 2011

They Pledge Allegiance...

Of late, we note the spate of candidates for, and holders of, high offices in our nation signing pledges, to groups and organizations, that they will not raise taxes, that they will ban same-sex marriage, that they will repeal the health care law, and so on. They are all in earnest, believing that such pledges make them exemplars of what it means to govern the United States, that they are willing to commit such action to paper and place their name upon it.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

You see, to have gained or to be placed in such positions requires only one pledge: a pledge to the citizens of a town, or a state, or the nation, that they will uphold and defend the Constitution (and/or their local charter), and will bound by its precepts, the highest being the principles of individual freedom and liberty, and the necessity to promote the general welfare. Such a pledge -- an oath, really -- is designed to make them aware of the seriousness of the task they are about to undertake and to remind them that they are not simply sovereigns, but beholden to the people who granted them the power.

When a lawmaker decides that a pledge to an individual group that espouses principles that align with their party or personal beliefs, they are voiding that oath they took. When a candidate for office does so, they marking themselves as unfit to govern. To place the interests of a small group against the interests of a state or nation, is to allow undue influence. It says that you are willing to listen to some but not others. It says that you are preordaining inflexibility and rigidity in governance, rather than maintaining open-mindedness and compromise. It says you place your beliefs and values above those of the full body of citizens. It says you are unwilling to do what is best for all, only what will gain you votes and "glory."

Personal belief and morality and honor do have a place in governance, but they must be tempered by the overarching need to maintain the greater good. It is not above us or beneath us to admit that, though we may feel it wrong or against our personal beliefs, some things are best for all Americans, if we are not simply paying lip-service to the words written down by the Founding Fathers. Governance requires the view of the grand scale of humanity, not the swathes we are bound to. It requires the acceptance that we are not infallible, that we must constantly tweak and tinker to create a government that runs smoothly and efficiently. It demands that we put aside other considerations, that we treat our nation as one group, indivisible, as we also treat it as a group of individuals, each with their own rights and privileges to enforced, maintained, and extended. It works only where all voices can be heard and given equal sway.

So I say, be wary of one who would so easily pledge allegiance to a group or organization that does not represent the best interests of all Americans, for it is quite possible that, though you voted for them, when the time comes, a knock upon their door will be met with stony silence.

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