December 3, 2012-On Sunday I attended a meeting for the Teamsters where proposals were taken for the upcoming contract negotiations. As I sat there listening to the proceedings all I could think of was, is it any wonder why America is so screwed up. Allow me to explain.
After being called to order the meeting began with us reciting the pledge of allegiance. Although all the members recited it from memory, I truly wonder how many of them realized the significance of the words they were reciting.
The pledge states, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
I consider myself a staunch patriot, someone who loves his country, but yet I have trouble with one aspect of the pledge of allegiance. I do not particularly care for the fact that I am pledging allegiance to a flag. I would much rather the pledge simply stated, “I pledge allegiance to the Republic, one Nation Under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Being that as it not how the pledge is written, let’s take a moment to discuss what exactly you are saying when you recite the pledge.
Allegiance is defined as loyalty to, or support for a person, cause, or group. So, when you say you are pledging allegiance to the flag, AND to the Republic for which it stands, you are pledging loyalty to this country. The pledge goes on to say, “…one Nation under God…” I know, I know the words under God were not a part of the pledge until President Eisenhower signed a bill on Flag Day in 1954, but seeing as how they are now part of the official pledge, when you recite it you are acknowledging the fact that this IS one Nation, under God. Indivisible means not capable of being separated into smaller parts.
Now this is where the pledge deserves a bit more attention. It continues by saying, “…with liberty and justice for all.” To many, liberty has many meanings, but according to the dictionary it is defined as: 1. The right to choose; the freedom to think or act without being constrained by necessity or force. 2. Freedom; freedom from captivity or slavery. 3. Basic Right; a political, social, and economic right that belongs to the citizens of a state or to all people. Finally, justice is defined as “the administration of law; especially : the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity.”
So, when you recite the pledge you are stating that you support our nation, a republic, you recognize that it is a nation under God, and that you recognize that it is designed to protect our ability to think and act without constraint, with a fair and equal determination of rights under the law, in this case the law being the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
I know I went a bit overboard with that explanation, but I did so for a reason. People do not understand that this nation is a Republic, and not a pure democracy. A pure democracy is one in which the people themselves gather together and administer the government, with the majority having the power and authority to impose their will upon the minority. In Federalist 10, James Madison warns of the danger of factions in a pure democracy, “When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government, on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens.”
On the other hand, a Republic is defined as, “a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.”
Under our system, which could be called a representative democracy, the people elect representatives to govern in their stead, but these representatives are bound by law to do only those things which we the people have granted them the authority to do. That power and authority is granted to them by the Constitution.
Thomas Paine, in his pamphlet The Rights of Man, says this about a Constitution, “A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting its government. It is the body of elements, to which you can refer, and quote article by article; and which contains the principles on which the government shall be established, the manner in which it shall be organised, the powers it shall have, the mode of elections, the duration of Parliaments, or by what other name such bodies may be called; the powers which the executive part of the government shall have; and in fine, everything that relates to the complete organization of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound.”
In short, a Constitution is the law that we the people wrote to govern the actions of our government. How does all this apply to a union meeting?
Well, when a union and a company get together and negotiate a contract, the finished contract is legally binding upon all parties and any violations of said contract are subject to a redress of grievances. The same applies to our Constitution. As it is legally binding upon both the people, and those who represent the people in government, any violation of the limits imposed upon government is also subject to a redress of grievances by the people.
Yet why is it that people, especially those who are members of a union, are more concerned with violations of a contract than they are with violations of the Constitution? Why is it that they allow their union to influence their opinion when it comes to who they will vote for, and which ballot measures they will vote for, or against, when the people the union endorses clearly do not adhere to the contract established by our Founders to limit the powers of government, i.e. Constitution? The hypocrisy in that is so distasteful it almost makes me want to vomit.
But unfortunately there was more to this union meeting that makes me realize that this country is screwed up. Every time someone spoke there were translators available to translate what was said into both Spanish and Punjabi.
When one comes to this country, they should be willing to learn English to a level which allows them to function in society. It is not the responsibility of America to cater to those who cannot, or refuse, to learn English. It is too bad that we don’t adhere to what former President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country.”
And since I mentioned Teddy Roosevelt, allow me to quote him once again in regards to immigrants to this country, “In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”
When one becomes a citizen they take an oath of naturalization, which in part states, “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…”
This union meeting sounded more like a meeting of the general assembly of the United Nations than it did a meeting of Americans discussing proposals for a contract negotiation. Most of the proposals made were designed to benefit one group, or faction as James Madison spoke of in Federalist 10. That is exactly what happens on a much larger scale in this country. Various groups all jockey for political favors which benefit their group without any consideration as to whether what they seek is in the best interest of the country as a whole. Does that sound at all like a nation in which we pledge ourselves to the principle to be “…indivisible, with liberty and justice for all?”
No, America is a fragmented mess with so many classes and special interests pitted against each other, while no one cares at all for the principle of liberty, equal rights, and the rule of law with our government merely playing us all against each other so that they may increase their power and control over our lives.
To quote Teddy Roosevelt one last time, “The death-knell of the republic had rung as soon as the active power became lodged in the hands of those who sought, not to do justice to all citizens, rich and poor alike, but to stand for one special class and for its interests as opposed to the interests of others.”
So, that is why I could do nothing but think that it is no wonder this country is screwed up so badly. If a few simple union members could not see eye to eye on matters, communicate in common language, and do what is in the best interest of the group, how can we ever expect a nation of 300 plus million people to do so?
Face it, our goose is cooked…