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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Pledge - Part I

As I begin this article, Congress is set to recess so they can return home and attempt to rally their lagging supporters for the election which will be upon us in less than a month.

Please note, however, that it is this same Congress that is leaving town without having passed (during the modern era) the budget for 2010-2011; without proceeding with the prosecution of two high-ranking members of Congress for ethics violations; and it is the same Congress that cannot agree on whether to allow the Bush Tax Cuts to continue on, or to fall by the wayside. Of all the bills brought before Congress this year, more than half were bills naming federal buildings, recognizing individuals or groups (like sports teams) for achievements, or supporting the designation of particular days, weeks, or months.

In the midst of all this political tom-foolery, the Republican Party has come out with a renewed “Contract With America.” You will recall this was proposed and heartily accepted by “We the People” back in 1994. This time it is called “A Pledge to America,” introduced publicly on September 23rd by House minority leader, John Boehner (pronounced bay-ner), and the Republican House of Representatives Leadership.

Being the curious type, I looked for this document on the Internet and downloaded it so I could read it for myself. It is not as voluminous as the various bills passed, such as the nearly 2000 pages of the Health Care Bill. This is a mere twenty-one pages. So I ordered an individual pizza and a soda and sat down alone at Pizza Plus to pore over the document. If you want to read it for yourself, you can download it at: http://pledge.GOP.gov. The following is what I have gleaned from my perusal. Next week’s article will be a continuation.

This “Pledge to America” starts out with a single statement: “America is more than a country.” Hmmmmm. I liked the sounds of this already.

The second statement was a bit longer – fleshing out the first statement. “America is an idea – an idea that free people can govern themselves, that government’s powers are derived from the consent of the governed, that each of us is endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America is the belief that any man or woman can – given economic, political, and religious liberty – advance themselves, their families, and the common good.” Now, here are statements I can identify with! This idea of “consent of the governed” emerged on the American political scene as an assumed principle that was eventually accepted by the American populace. “As the Congress unquestionably exercised national powers, operating over the whole country, the conclusion is inevitable that the will of the whole people is the source of national government in the United States, even from its first imperfect appearance in the Second Continental Congress.”

Also during the Second Continental Congress, the second statement found in the Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

So from the outset of this Pledge I see a return in word and in spirit to the original documents that established our nation as unique among nations.

Another statement early in this Pledge says, “America is an inspiration to those who yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine their own destiny. Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course."

In conclusion to the opening of this Pledge, there are a series of pledges. Here is a quick summation:

“With this document, we pledge to dedicate ourselves to the task of reconnecting our highest aspirations to the permanent truths of our founding by keeping faith with the values our nation was founded on, the principles we stand for, and the priorities of our people. This is our pledge to America . . . We pledge to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers . . . We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values . . . We pledge to make government more transparent . . . We make this pledge bearing true faith and allegiance to the people we represent.”

I must say that having read the entire document, I was encouraged by the emphasis in getting our nation back on track with Constitutional governance. At this point, these are all so many pretty words. Will Congressional Republicans, and those growing number of Congressional Democrats who are getting on board with this document, follow through after the November elections? Hard to say, but unless the two major parties wish to disappear into historical irrelevancy for betraying the American people once again, they’d better be deadly serious about restoring the government into the hands of “We the People.”

We are awake, and we are watching.

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