The Transylvania Times -

Loyalty To The Constitution, Not Individuals  


June 12, 2017

In the past few weeks there has been much discussion about the president and loyalty. The focal point has been President Trump’s apparent request that former FBI director James Comey be loyal to him. Some find such a request troubling, unethical and possibly illegal. Others seem less concerned and believe the president can or should seek loyalty from those in the executive branch.

Loyalty is generally considered a positive. Employers want loyal employees. Married couples want loyal spouses. Indeed, many wedding vows state spouses be loyal “for richer, for poorer, for better or worse, in sickness and in health.” Without such loyalty, businesses could lose their most guarded secrets to their competitors and marriage as an institution would be a sham.

But such loyalty can also be abused and in such cases it can be proper to dissolve those bonds of loyalty. A wife is not being disloyal if she leaves a husband who beats or tortures her emotionally.

With government, we want individuals who are loyal to this country and the democratic principles upon which it was founded, but that is quite different than being loyal to any individual in government.  A country’s leaders can lead it down the wrong path and promote unjust and immoral acts.  The soldiers of Nazi Germany were loyal to their country just as the soldiers of the South were loyal to the Confederacy, but they were misled by their leaders.

In this respect, blind loyalty can become obeisance, setting individuals up for easy manipulation and coercing them to repress their individual conscience. An immoral or unethical act is okay because their leader has demanded or approved it – either explicitly or implicitly.

In reality, the greatest way to honor justice is by rejecting blind loyalty, by following just laws and by breaking unjust laws while accepting the punishment for the latter. It is an act of honor to adhere to a higher moral code and reject unlawful or immoral edicts while understanding that the result could be unemployment or worse. Those German officers who plotted to kill Adolf Hitler were not loyal to him, but they were loyal to a higher moral code and more honorable than the men who carried out Hitler’s atrocious commands.

We should also remember that those Americans who fought against England were revolting against a king, a monarch requiring their loyalty. The Declaration of Independence, which we will celebrate in a few short weeks, provides a “history of repeated injuries and usurpations” by the King of Great Britain on the colonists.

Our Founding Fathers, being wise men, recognized the inherent potential for abuse in a monarchy and rejected any mention of loyalty to a person in government.

We pledge allegiance to the flag – not the president, not Congress, not the Supreme Court and not an individual. When people take a federal position, elected or otherwise, they explicitly pledge to defend the Constitution. They do not pledge to defend any particular individual, including the president. To preserve our Constitution and our democracy, it must be this way.

If it were not, then we would be a monarchy, not a democracy. Government officials would owe their allegiance to the president, not the Constitution. And under such a scenario, we would become a nation of men, not laws. The Constitution would be rendered meaningless.

Most of the time our presidents act in accordance with the Constitution. But when a president acts in contradiction to the Constitution and is breaking his oath of office to “obey and defend” the Constitution, then government officials – elected, appointed or simply hired –must be loyal to the Constitution and oppose the president. To do otherwise is literally to destroy the fabric of this nation and all that our men and women in uniform have fought for since the American Revolution. 


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