What if there is a failure of Constitutional government? If we still believe it possible to reach the point where it is a duty to “throw off such Government,” what should be the criteria for recognizing we have reached the critical moment in time?
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
—The Declaration of Independence
For the American Republic was the above paragraph vitiated by the U.S. Constitution and the Amendment process? What if there is a failure of Constitutional government? If we still believe it possible to reach the point where it is a duty to “throw off such Government,” what should be the criteria for recognizing we have reached the critical moment in time?
I had the privilege to witness my son take his oath as an officer in the U.S. Army (see below the full oath) and two points of the oath stood out. One, officers swear to “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic…”. I wonder what constitutes a proper understanding of domestic enemies which an Army officer should defend the Constitution against? Secondly, in these times, how long can officers be allowed to swear “So help me God.”
Perhaps we can begin a conversation about these somewhat perplexing questions.
“I, _____ , having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.” (DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)
The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.
The featured image is “The Bostonians Paying the Excise-man, or Tarring and Feathering” (1774), attributed to Philip Dawe, and is in the public domain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.