A few years ago, at a Veterans Day celebration, I was reminded that the oath I took in 1963, when I was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the USAF was still in force. That oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States so help me God had no expiration date. I never proclaimed that I was freeing myself from my sacred promise to support and defend the Constitution.
Recently I was thinking about the consequences if I had violated that oath. A witness at a trial or before a grand jury or when appearing at a Congressional hearing, takes an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God. Violating that oath leads to an indictment for perjury, and if found guilty, a stay in prison.
Pious Orthodox Jews will not take that oath since they say that nobody knows exactly what the whole truth is. Instead, they affirm that they will be telling the truth to the best of their knowledge. So, what consequence exists for those who violate the oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution? Why does this trouble me?
Every member of the U.S. House and Senate has taken a similar oath and many have violated their sworn promise. Republican and Democrats in both houses of Congress delayed providing badly needed assistance to Americans suffering from the financial ravages of COVID. The Democrats hoped to get a better deal if the blue wave they predicted came true on Election Day, while Republicans delayed waiting for clues as to what President Trump wanted.
Included in the Preamble is the directive to promote the general welfare, which those who delayed COVID relief for political purposes violated, thus negating the oath they took upon entering office. Then, more than 100 Republicans in the House stated their support for the attempt by the Attorney General of Texas to overturn the election results in four OTHER states, which action is certainly unconstitutional.
Some suggest that the consequence for oath violation should be removal from office. This is way too severe, and the number of guilty politicians would disrupt the federal government even more than current dysfunction creates. What should be done?
Perhaps all Senators and Representatives should gather in a joint session where they will retake their oath. This would be followed by an address by members of the clergy representing every religious denomination in both houses. The clergy can remind the audience of the sacred nature of taking an oath which includes the phrase, “So Help Me God.” This ceremony should be broadcast on all major networks followed by another explanation of the meaning of a sacred oath.