The Oath

By Dr. Gregory J. Brannon

The Constitution of the United States…it’s only keepers, the people.” -George Washington

Oath: a solemn promise, often involving a divine witness, regarding one’s future action or behavior.

Our Founding Fathers were men of integrity. They kept their word. How do we know? We inherited the United States of America. On July 4, 1776, they pledged their life, their fortune and most importantly their sacred honor. By keeping their commitment, we gained a nation.

To sustain this nation, they wrote the Law of the Land and documented it so it could last forever in the embodiment of the Constitution. John Dickenson, Continental Congressman from Pennsylvania and Delaware, who was recognized by Thomas Jefferson as being “among the first of the advocates for the rights of his country when assailed by Great Britain” whose “name will be consecrated in history as one of the great worthies of the revolution, “[1] said of the Constitution, “We are not forming plans for a day, month, year or age but for eternity.”[2] This led to the world’s first Representative Constitutional Republic.

Thomas Jefferson expressed how our Founders feared power in the hands of the few. “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”[3] Our Founders understood human nature and how power corrupts man. Therefore, they set up a system of government called federalism, based on dispersing power. In such a system, power originates from the individual who bestows limited powers to state and federal government to protect the individual’s rights granted from our Creator. Binding our leaders to protect this system, the Constitution requires them to take an oath.

Article II Section 1—Oath for President
Before he enters on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:
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.”

NOTE: George Washington added, “so help me God!”

Article VI—Oath for Congress

“The Senators and Representatives…shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution…”

Even with such delegation and an oath to adhere to the powers granted through that delegation, George Washington did not believe the oath was enough. The true power over the Constitution was “We the People.” Washington stated, “The Constitution of the United States…it’s only keepers, the people.”

Today, 224 years after the writing of the Constitution, there is a need for a rebirth of our Founders’ thoughts and writings. When comparing where we are to where we started, America stands across a huge chasm. Discontent in the face of this gaping disparity with our foundational principles has led to the genesis of the Tea Party Movement, which carries a clear message. “We hold these truths to be self-evident that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights”. And to secure these rights, government’s power only comes from the consent of the governed! That is us, “We the People.” Just as George Washington stated, it’s our responsibility to ask why our elected officials are not upholding their oaths. More importantly, it is our duty to hold them accountable.

How far has our country strayed from our path as a Representative Constitutional Republic? By following the recommendation of George Washington, the Tea Party is being assaulted with personal attacks in classic Saul Alinsky fashion. Facts are not tools for debate. Rather, inflammatory and derogatory rhetoric answer that calls for accountability. These attacks come from all fronts. The media is rife with examples such as the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman who wrote, “If sane Republicans do not stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst, the Tea Party will take the G.O.P. on a suicide mission.”[4] The political establishment is equally afraid with Arizona Senator and former Presidential candidate John McCain deriding conservatives reluctant to raise the national debt ceiling, calling them “tea party hobbits” on the Senate floor.[5] Mr. McCain, not only were the Hobbits the good guys, they won. Even more disheartening is when the two come together such as with Massachusetts Senator John Kerry’s statement, “The media in America has a bigger responsibility than it’s exercising today. The media has got to begin to not give equal time or equal balance to an absolutely absurd notion…”[6] Even academia admits a bias against conservatives, but at least they have the decency to admit it.[7]

These “Elite” believe they know more than us mere plebs. However, the Tea Party Movement knows our Founders built a Republic, where individualism always supersedes the collective. The Tea Party is informed, educated, and ready for this debate. We do not have the authentic government that our Founders fought and died for. Now, we have a Congress that exempts themselves from the very laws they shackle us with.[8] James Madison stated in Federalist Paper 57, “The House of Representatives …can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as the great mass of society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the ruler and the people together. It creates between them that communion of interest, and sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples, but without which every government degenerates into tyranny.”

But how did we find ourselves in this state of affairs?

Crisis, crisis, crisis. Rahm Emmanuel stated in response to the emerging financial crisis of 2008. “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”[9] This statement is an insightful declaration? When people feel insecure during a crisis, they are more willing to give up liberty for security. Ben Franklin warned that anyone willing to give up a little liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security.
During World War I, Woodrow Wilson arrested Italian and German Americans as well as 170,000 other Americans who disagreed with his war policies under the Sedition Act. During the crisis of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt expanded the scope of the Federal Government to provide “social security” and then subsequently used the crisis of World War II to strip Japanese Americans of their Constitutional rights by imprisoning them in the encampment during the war. In recent years, we’ve seen this pattern escalate with a continuous onslaught of problems that will supposedly cause our country’s economy or even the world economies to collapse. These “problems” have yielded TARP, an ineffectual stimulus package, nationalized healthcare, and most recently a debt agreement that subverts our Constitution.

But our country can only collapse if We the People do not hold our elected representatives accountable to their commitment, the Oath to the Constitution. The recent events surrounding the legislation to raise the debt ceiling was a result of our Representatives not following their Constitutional limitations. Unlike our leaders of today, our Founders were clear-headed when it came to the national debt.

We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.”
-Thomas Jefferson

Avoid occasions of expense…and avoid likewise the accumulation of debt not only by shunning occasions of expense but vigorous exertions to discharge the debts, not throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves out to hear.”  -George Washington

I go on the principle that a public debt is a public curse, and in a Republican Government a greater curse than any other.”
-James Madison

When you run in debt; you give to another power over your liberty.” -Benjamin Franklin

Like the Tea Party “terrorists”, our Founders had a starkly different view of debt than that of our elected leaders, Obama, Reid, Boehner, and McConnell. But perhaps this recent issue was less about the debt and more about the establishment of an unconstitutional “Super Congress” comprised of twelve members and the President. Their purpose is to make decisions that the congress can only vote up or down on and which takes a two-thirds vote to overturn a decision. Clearly, this is unconstitutional.

Article 1 Section 1 of the Constitution

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Article 1 of the Constitution covers the rights and responsibilities of Congress. The House of Representatives has responsibility for initiating all revenue bills. They are the people’s direct representation to Congress, not the party of twelve or “Super Congress”. The Constitution also states that both the House and Senate have responsibility for the amendment process. Furthermore, the Senate has the unique power of the filibuster, granting a single Senator the ability to block a bill. These are all bypassed by the “Super Congress”. This is the very definition of an oligarchy, a dictatorship of the few or politburo. These men are the same men who took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not destroy it. The most egregious offense is that the “Super Congress” eliminates our direct representation to the Republic.

Therefore, the battle line has been drawn; this is not a battle of Democrat vs. Republican, left vs. right. This is the fight for the very soul of America. Are we a Representative Constitutional Republic or not? If not, then let’s have that debate. Our Founders provided a mechanism in the Constitution via Article V. But let’s not subvert the Constitution and pretend it means the same thing.
Today is the day we must stand on the foundational truths our Founders have laid. The path we must choose is clear. Today is the day we must decide what type of America will endure for the future, free or bonded. I choose FREE!

A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people. -James Madison


[1] Thomas Jefferson, “Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Joseph Bringhurst,” February 24, 1808.
[2] John Dickinson, “The Letters of Fabius,” in Paul L. Ford, ed, Pamphlets on the Constitution of the United States (New York: DeCapo Press, 1968). Documents VIII and XI.
[3] Thomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 30: 1 January 1798 to 31 January 1799. (Princeton University Press, 2003), 536-43
[4] Thomas Friedman, “Can’t We Do This Right,” New York times, July 26, 2011, Accessed August 11, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/27/opinion/27friedman.htm.
[5] “John McCain Derides ‘Tea Party Hobbits’ in Debt Ceiling Fight,” LA Times, July 28, 2011, Accessed August 11, 2011. http://www.articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/28/nation/la-na-mccain-tea-party-20110728

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