In Defense of the “Oath of an American Citizen”

A number of people with whom I shared the Oath of an American Citizen balked a bit at me using the word “responsibility” in relation to when our government goes awry. Responsibility, their argument went, creates too much of a commitment and renders the pledge too harsh. A better word would be “right”, they said. I want to take the time today to answer those concerns.

The fact is that I chose the word “responsibility” over the word “right” on purpose. A right is something one is allowed to or encouraged to do, but it’s also optional. Free speech and religion, the right to bear arms — these are rights. Nobody is required to exercise them, but they’re there just in case. A responsibility, on the other hand, is something one must do. It is not only allowed, not only encouraged, but necessary. Paying taxes, defending your home or family. My oath is all about responsibility, because having rights isn’t enough. Let me explain why.

There were two attempts at framing a government after the Revolutionary War, and the first was an utter failure. It failed for a number of reasons, but foremost among them was that it didn’t properly connect to the citizenry. While the Articles of Confederation did combine the 13 states as a nation and created an overarching federal structure, the citizens felt no responsibility towards it because the government had no power over their lives, and for their part the citizens had no direct voice in the government. The states had that responsibility. Within 10 years, as citizens ignored the national government, the founders could see anarchy on the horizon, their enemies in Europe waiting with bated breath. Their answer was the Constitution.

This second attempt created a federal structure with three branches, one of which consisted of two parts: one representing the states (the Senate) and one representing the people (the House of Representatives). Additionally, the federal government was given more power than it had before: ratify treaties, to raise an army, handle trade, and levy taxes, among them. The Constitution, in other words, gives the federal government direct say over people’s lives in very specific ways, but also gives people a direct voice in the government without removing states’ rights.

The Republic we are involved in requires full participation from all of its parts in order to be a cohesive whole, and one of those parts is the citizenry — it’s not a “House of Representatives” if they don’t “Represent”. It has survived — a second war with Britain, a civil war, the expansion west and the addition of 37 new states, two world wars — on the assumption that voters will choose representatives who serve their region’s needs, but also will have the presence-of-mind to understand those needs on a national scale. However, when a small percentage of a region’s voters turn out to vote, representation becomes “factioned”. In other words, a specific group becomes represented over a particular region.

And that brings me back to the topic of “responsibility” versus “right”. If it is only our “right” to vote, then we can choose not to exercise it. When that happens, it is inevitable that we will become a faction-controlled Republic, and the evidence is mounting quickly that we are already there. Voter turn-out has declined steadily since 1870 to the point where a “mandate” in 2006 was enacted by just 37% of the eligible, registered voters. We can see the results of this kind of “governing by the few”.

However, if each of us sees voting as our responsibility to the sanctity of our nation, each citizen sees the fate of the country as partly their task, and each citizen spends their requisite amount of time and energy applying themselves to that task, a faction-controlled government is theoretically impossible. Imagine, for instance, a mandate that was really a mandate. Imagine a president elected by more than a 25% “majority” (George W. Bush received 49% of the vote from 67% of the voters in 2004).

So yes, I used “responsibility” instead of “right” and I meant it. It’s not easy being a citizen of this experiment that is the United States of America, but then it was never intended to be. Easy citizenship leads to anarchy, fascism, monarchy. The founders expected their descendants to be intelligent and worthy of the mantle of responsibility thrust upon them by the Constitution. Are we, though?

Pledge of the American Citizen

[podcast]http://www.onegecko.com/audio/podcasts/onegecko-radio-2008-02-21.mp3[/podcast]

In today’s podcast, I take a look at the citizenship pledge that is given to immigrants who have passed the naturalization exam on their way to become citizens of the United States. In conjunction with that, though, I also present a pledge for people who are already citizens so that we can reaffirm our responsibilities and connection with our society, country, and government.

To read and sign it, grab the citizens pledge here and follow the instructions. If you want to sign it right away, email me your name and state, and I’ll get them up on the pledge within 24 hours.

The point of this pledge is for those of us who are natural-born citizens to re-affirm our connection and responsibilities with this country. I’ve noticed too many times over the years a lack of understanding among too many people of what our responsibilities actually are. I’ll be addressing those in later posts and ‘casts, but thought this would be a good place to start.

EDIT (22-Feb-2008): The email box was not responding properly, but is now fixed.

Ron Paul Supporters to March on Washington

Supporters of Ron Paul are working together across the nation to plan a march on Washington, D.C. some time later this year. The date hasn’t been determined yet, but signs point to sometime this spring or summer, prior to the DNC and RNC conventions. I support the idea of this march whole-heartedly.

The purpose of the gathering is to show that in spite of how Ron Paul’s message is faring within the sanctioned halls of the RNC, there are a vast number of voters across the country who do support the message. To that end, I urge you to sign up in order to find out more information. If you can, attend the march. If not, then please help us get the word out.

The website linked above is being managed by North Virginia Patriots, apparently. The look to be a couple of guys in New Hampshire who run a radio show, so tune in to see what they have to say, too.

Important article from The Guardian

Please read this article by Naomi Wolf. It’s a great breakdown of the steps to Fascism, and follows the events of the last seven years as moving through those steps.

Is The United States of America becoming Fascist? Some signs point to yes. Please read the article. Please vote your conscience. Don’t let the system control you, because the Constitution allows us to control the system.

How campaigns make us think voting doesn’t matter

It’s 6:30 in the morning here, I’m tired, and rushing to get ready for work. In spite of all of that, however, I need to share the book I’ve just finished reading:”How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative” The author, Allen Raymond, was a GOP campaign manager and operative between 1992 and 2002 and had heavy sway and influence in the messages, tactics, results in elections during that time.

Raymond exposes all of the tactics used by campaigns to twist the truth, distort the message, encourage, and discourage voters from voting. He documents from where these ideas come and shows examples of why and how the work.

The gist of the book, I believe, is summed up in the following paragraphs from the epilogue:

That is everything I can tell you from the inside — how the system is used by people just like me, in both parties, and that they are paid to win at all costs. The tactics will only get tougher, nastier, more brutal, because the tricks of the trade are known, embellished upon, and passed forward by people like me to more people like me, with the competition growing stiffer and the stakes rising higher with every election. So there it is. Now, what are you going to do about it?

Voters must question every shred of information they receive about each candidate using as many critical thinking methods as possible. The five “W’s” from reporting — who, what, where, when, why — are valuable here. When voters see or hear and ad, when they receive a phone call or a postcard or letter, they should be asking themselves who it’s from, what reason was there to send, where it came from, when it was sent, and why was it sent to them.

More so than the actual message, campaigns use targeted mailings with half-truths at key times to sway voters. Oftentimes the purpose of the message is to discourage people from voting at all. To me, this is the most insipid practice of all and is why I will continue to point out that not voting actually feeds the end-game of the system as opposed to — as some non-voters maintain — “sticking it to the man”.

I beg of you, read the book. At the very least, start questioning the information you receive from every campaign. As citizens with the responsibility of getting our country back to working the way it should, we must be informed. Not only through the usual channels of mass-media news and information spew, but also through our own reasoning and interpretation skills.

It’s not easy, but every campaign out there is counting on us not doing it. Is counting on us giving up and taking whatever it is they say as the ultimate truth.

There will be more from me on this subject, but in the meantime: don’t let them win. Use your mind, expose their lies, and vote your conscience.