I hope that the following realization is as impactful to you as it has been for me.
I’m sure you’ve heard the president or other members of government give their oaths of office before. But have you ever really listened to what they’re saying? Further, have you ever taken the time to contemplate how unique the oaths of office in America are when compared to those of other countries? Have you considered why the oaths say what they say…because the founders carefully selected the words for a reason.
Let’s look at a few examples from other countries first.
In France, they have no oaths of office.
In England, this is what entering members of parliament say: “I(name of Member) swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.“
In Australia, entering members of parliament say: “I, A.B., do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Her heirs and successors according to law. So Help Me God!“
In Russia, the entering president says: “I swear in exercising the powers of the President of the Russian Federation to respect and safeguard the rights and freedoms of man and citizen, to observe and protect the Constitution of the Russian Federation, to protect the sovereignty and independence, security and integrity of the State, to faithfully serve the people”.
These are just a few examples but notice what these oaths denote? The English and Australian oaths make clear that the ultimate goal is to support and follow the will of the monarch, while the Russian oath mentions the Constitution and then gives the president many other goals and jobs to do, such as safeguard rights, protect sovereignty and independence, faithfully serve the people and protect the security and integrity of the State. These are all fine sounding goals and yet as we proceed, you will notice that none of them are mentioned in the oaths of office that our founders gave to the American government.
Let’s look at four (a few have been amended or changed over time, but they maintained the core principle I’m going to discuss today).
The 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.”
The Senate: “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; 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.”
The military: “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.“
Sheriffs: “I, , do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and maintain the Constitution and the laws of the United States, and the Constitution and laws of North Carolina not inconsistent therewith, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of my office as deputy sheriff, so help me God.” (using my home state as the example here)
Do you notice what’s different about every single one of these oaths when compared to the preceding oaths? I hope it’s obvious to you.
The oaths of office all support, defend and preserve one thing: The Constitution of United States of America.
Why on earth is the Constitution’s defense and preservation the first and primary goal of the oaths? Yes, a few mention carrying out the roles prescribed in the Constitution but notice that none of them go beyond that…with reason.
You see, when we hire people to do a job for us in government, we don’t want people who will simply “do what’s good for the people”. I can’t tell you how many politicians or potential politicians I hear say this very phrase, “I’m here to help you, to do what’s best for the people”. I always cringe at that statement and then cringe more when watching those in the audience agree and cheer with little regard for what was just said.
You see, we don’t hire people to “do good for us” or to “help us” or do any of the litany of good sounding jobs mentioned in the Russian oath of office (e.g. safeguard rights, protect sovereignty and independence, faithfully serve the people and protect the security and integrity of the State).
Did you notice that nowhere in the oaths does it say that the entering subject will support and defend your rights or faithfully serve the people or protect the integrity of the State? Is this surprising to you? Why do our American oaths not say these things?
Well, let’s think about this. If they did say all of the above, saying all of the above would insinuate that such actions (faithfully serving the people, protecting security etc) was in their job description. But in America, those deeds are not what our politicians are tasked with doing because none of those wonderful deeds are what the founders tasked them with doing. The founders intended to protect liberty and therefore they ran from phrases like “do good for the people” or “protect the integrity of the State”. Why?
Because the ultimate goal of the founders was to preserve liberty and the best way to preserve liberty is to avoid arbitrary power at all costs.
And “doing good for the people” or “protecting the integrity of the State” is completely arbitrary. It can many anything. Hitler likely assumed or even claimed that he was “doing good for the people” or “helping the people” or “preserving the integrity of the State”. Leaving the interpretation of such power to the will of anyone in government is dangerous and arbitrary and is the very definition of tyranny and the very thing that the American founders were desperately trying to avoid.
No. Anyone we hire in government is given one job: to protect and defend the Constitution. Their job is to do what their job description, the Constitution, says and to fight to protect that job description against their own machinations for power as well as those of others.
“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.”
Again, I beg you to notice. This oath does not say to preserve, protect and defend the nation, or the government, or the people or even liberty (for those all can be interpreted in a variety of ways). No. It simply says to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.
The founders knew that in doing so, by default, the president would end up preserving, protecting and defending the nation, the government, the people and liberty. In fact, the best way for the president to threaten or destroy the nation, government, people and liberty would be to try to preserve and protect and defend them, according to his own will and interpretation, rather than protect, defend and preserve the Constitution.
I hope you’re getting this. I hope you’re starting to grasp the gravity and importance of the supremacy of the Constitution in this country. The founders weren’t flippant when they wrote these oaths to the Constitution alone.
A Constitution is only as powerful as it is powerful in the minds of the citizenry. In other words, there are many countries who have a “Constitution” and yet abuse and enslave their citizens beyond repair. A Constitution is a beautiful thing but is a worthless thing if there is no respect, honor and adoration for it and the founders wanted to make plain the complete supremacy of the Constitution beyond all else.
We bastardize the supremacy of the Constitution every time we cheer for candidates who (perhaps innocently and with good intention, though sometimes maliciously) say that they will “do good for the people” or “faithfully serve the people”. Friends, that is not their job. Their job is always first and foremost to do their job according to the Constitution and by default they will end up helping, serving, defending and protecting the people. They faithfully serve the people by abiding by the Constitution and doing what the Constitution tells them to do.
Such a small perversion from the truth is truly devastating and we the people should no longer stand for it. We should demand for candidates who, when running for office, always proclaim their adherence to, knowledge of and intent to follow their Constitutional powers before they do anything else.
Otherwise, slowly but surely, we normalize and advance arbitrary power.
Please note the importance of these oaths when it comes to lower levels of government blindly following unconstitutional orders from higher levels of government. According to their oaths, lower levels of government are not bound to follow such orders if it violates the primary supreme power ruling over all government: The Constitution.
The Liberty Belle