Friday, February 02, 2018

Sacred Duty

I didn't listen to 45's State of the Union address.  I've heard a couple of quotes from it, though, which disturbed me greatly.  Here's the first one:
All Americans deserve accountability and respect — and that is what we are giving them.  So tonight, I call on the Congress to empower every Cabinet Secretary with the authority to reward good workers — and to remove Federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.
 So, he wants his department heads to be able to fire people at will.  This would take us back to the 19th century, before the Federal Civil Service was established in 1871.  At that period any government employee could be fired by the President for any reason, or no reason, at any time; and government employees were chosen for their political allegiance.  The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 and subsequent laws slowly changed the system to what we have today, where the majority of the U.S. federal work force is appointed based on merit, that is, qualifications measured by tests. 

Our current president simply doesn't understand that Federal employees, like those in the Justice Department, don't work for him.  They work for the federal government - that is, for you and me.  They work for the president only because the president is also a citizen.  As far as I can tell, the U.S. government is functioning today only because of the dedication of those civil servants, working diligently in the background to support the government and the people of the U.S.

Here's the second disturbing quote:
So tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties — Democrats and Republicans — to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed.  My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream.  Because Americans are dreamers too.
That is a lie.  The sacred duty of members of Congress, and of the President, is outlined clearly in their oaths of office.  Here are the oaths of office:

For the Senate:
Upon taking office, senators-elect must swear or affirm that they will "support and defend the Constitution...The oath is required by the Constitution; the wording is prescribed by law.
For the House:
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 on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
Current wording of the House oath is set by statute (5 U.S.C. 3331), enacted by Congress.

For the President:
"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."
This wording is specified in Article 2, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution.  The incoming President is allowed to affirm instead of swear; Mr. Trump chose to swear.

The president has no official duty to "defend Americans."  In fact, the SOTU contained a great deal of rhetoric about how great Americans are; in which case, why do we need to be defended?

I've seen no evidence that the current president even understands the job he has undertaken; he still thinks he's running a private company, where everything depends on his whim.  I devoutly hope the country will survive his term in office, since he and his appointees are doing their best to dismantle the government, and the only people who could remove him from office are devoting their efforts to licking his boots and trying to cover up his misfeasances.

In my humble opinion, not only 45 but the entire leadership of the Republican Party in Congress are in current violation of their oaths of office.  They are not supporting, protecting, and defending the Constitution.  They are supporting, protecting, and defending Donald Trump.

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