Sunday, March 12, 2017

Public Oaths of Office and the Ides of March

When I'm speaking about public oaths in this piece, I'm writing about promises made by people who are elected into public offices and are supposed to be representative of their constituents.  I am not referring to "Bloody Christ! What the ....." types of exclamations.
   When a citizen of the United States is elected to Congress - either into the House of Representatives or into the Senate - our Constitution (Article VI, Clause 3) requires that each person take an oath of office to support the Constitution.  The specific language of the oath has changed several times since it was first administered in 1789.  It is set by a statute (5 U.S.C. 3331), enacted by Congress.  It currently reads:
 I do solemnly swear 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 will 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 of which I am about to enter.  So help me God.
United States law requires that Members of Congress must be sworn before they can take their seats (2 U.S.C. 21, 25).

The wording of the presidential oath of office is specified in Article II, Section One, Clause 8 of the US Constitution.  This clause is one of two oath or affirmation clauses, but it alone actually specifies the words that must be spoken.  The clause for Congressional members requires the persons specified therein to "be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution."  The presidential oath, on the other hand, requires much more than this general oath of allegiance and fidelity.  This clause enjoins the new president to swear or affirm that he (or she) "will to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."  It reads:
 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.   

Do you think that your elected Congressman, or Congresswoman, is doing their best to represent you and your interests?  Do you believe that the President and Vice President are doing their best to represent your beliefs and interests?  If so, do nothing.  If not, send a postcard to the White House on 15 March, and let your President know that you don not feel he is doing a good job.  Send a postcard to your representatives in Congress and let them know how you grade their representation.

The address for the President and Vice President is:
President  -  or Vice President
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D. C.   20500

The address for your Senator is:
Office of Senator (his or her name)
United States Senate
Washington, D. C.  20510

The address for your Representative is:
Office of Representative (his or her name)
U. S. House of Representatives
Washington, D. C.   20515

A postcard stamp costs 34 cents; a regular letter costs 46 cents....  If you don't want to purchase postcard stamps, you can always use regular stamps....

Just remember to let your United States governmental officials know what you think of their performance in office on March 15!

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