Loyalty to Country Must Always Prevail Over Loyalty to Government


Some Americans think that country and government are one in the same but that is simply not the case. The Founding Fathers created this government and charged it with the responsibility to govern the country according to the provisions of the Constitution and the will of the people.

The U.S. Constitution is the bedrock, the solid foundation upon which this nation was built, based on these principles; separation of powers, limited government, checks and balances and individual rights. We might add ethics, fairness and justice.

An organizational chart would show the government reporting directly to the country and the people of America. The government’s job, therefore, is to follow those principles in advancing the interests of this country and the American people.

But here’s the problem. While the Founders may have had the best of intentions of creating the best government possible there was no way that they could possibly guarantee that future governments would adhere to those principles or follow the will of the people. Today, we are painfully becoming aware of that reality as this government has clearly become an oligarchy that openly serves the interests of the rich and powerful.

There have been times in this nation’s history when the government, the country and the people have been in sync and on the same frequency; where there was a close bond between the people and those who govern the nation; when the government was very responsive to the needs and interests of the people, above all else. That’s when government understood that it must listen to the people and largely base its objectives accordingly.

When one sees this government engaged in actions that violate this country’s Constitution as well as the principles of ethics and morals, then there is no question that a person must not accept and condone them but must do what is right for the country. The Founding Fathers were very clear on that point; when citizens find their government committing unacceptable acts then they must strongly speak out against them. That’s a responsibility that comes with being a citizen of this country.

Carl Schurz, Union Army General, later US Senator, and, still later, US Secretary of the Interior said: “The Senator from Wisconsin cannot frighten me by exclaiming, “My country, right or wrong.” In one sense I say so too. My country; and my country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

So we the people have the responsibility to “set it right” whenever that is necessary and do everything in our power, using peaceful dissent to protest against abuses. When the Founding Fathers were faced with an oppressive government that stifled the will of the people, they refused to bend to its dictates. They declared this country’s independence; they then created the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and gave birth to a new nation.

The vast majority of Americans love their country but, increasingly, do not feel that same love for their government. They see it as a bloated bureaucracy, heavily corrupted, and plagued with deceitful politicians; many have lost all trust in it.

Can someone tell me even one major initiative or important piece of legislation produced by this Congress in the past 14 years? Something is terribly wrong when we have 535 supposed representatives of the people who each make $174,000 annually, and their leaders even more, and then, collectively, do absolutely nothing to earn that money. We might as well throw it down a black hole.

This is a dark period in America’s history. It’s as if a perpetual dark cloud hangs over Washington D.C. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a government that was positive, constructive, with vision for the future? Sad to say, we don’t. This is no longer government of, by and for the people, it is one that serves the interests of a small element of this population; it has become an oligarchy.

I won’t go into great detail over all the many failures and shortcomings of this government and why it no longer is doing what is right for its country and people. However, the following synopsis will highlight the reasons why we need to put the loyalty to this country above that of the government.

From the president to the Congress to the State Department to the Pentagon, an agenda of military hubris continues to spread across the world. Wars, invasions, occupations, and interference in the internal affairs of other countries have become a primary objective.

This government has, in effect, “declared its independence” from the people of America and has aligned itself with the masters of Corporatism? The objectives of these corporations have now become major objectives of this government.

We have a Congress divided in half with members of the opposing parties entirely incapable of working together on this nation’s critical problems. It’s like East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet. It is heavily corrupted, answering only to special interests.

Our education system and the national infrastructure should be top priorities for funding; they are not. Our manufacturing system and workforce have been decimated, and with it, the middle class. Congress has no intention of doing anything to stop the bleeding.

Government agencies, the NSA and the DEA in particular, are spying on the American people. Our privacy is being invaded in many ways; we have Big Brother constantly looking over our shoulders.

We must reduce our huge dependency on petroleum and develop solar power and other alternate energy; but nothing is being done because of the grip that the oil corporations have on this Congress.

Climate change and global warming are threats to this country’s future and that of the planet. They are being ignored and given no attention.

The inequality of wealth and income is more and more problematic as the standard of living for the average American is rapidly being eroded.

We have a president that promised change and “Yes we can” but we’ve seen no evidence of any of it. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize but his foreign policies and actions indicate that this was a very questionable choice.

The Supreme Court is not a champion of the U.S. Constitution but is a very strong advocate for advancing the rights and privileges of the masters of Corporatism.

The Justice Department has watched as the white collar criminals on Wall Street have broken laws and bent regulations to enrich themselves at the expense of the American people and has not prosecuted even one of them.

So, is that how this government shows its loyalty and dedication to this country and its people?

Now what about the many Americans who are watching this government’s many questionable and often disastrous policies and actions? What do they think, how are they reacting to its many failures? Well, I would divide the American people into three general categories to answer that question:

Those who, no matter how egregious the actions of the government might be, accept and condone them and strongly deny that their government would ever do anything wrong. That’s called blind loyalty.

Those who are fully aware of such egregious actions, but who feel that they have to be loyal and obedient to their government no matter what it does. They might consider themselves as patriots but that’s not what true patriots do.

Those who love their country and respect their government but who, when aware that the government is taking this country in the exact wrong direction, refuse to accept and condone those actions and will do everything in their power to reverse this direction.

The vast majority of Americans can be found in categories 1 and 2 and far too few in category 3.

So the lesson to be learned by the American people can be found in these words of wisdom from Mark Twain: “Loyalty to country ALWAYS, loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”


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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.