Renewing the Pledge of Allegiance exposes seditious, thuggish, Trumpist hypocrites
I am hardly alone asserting the ever-more-fascist Republican Party is the modern equivalence of the Confederacy – a militant, deluded, gut-driven insurgency against the spirit and letter of the American way. As Biden (finally) begins to end our national health emergency, let’s also renew the Pledge of Allegiance, then pressure today’s rightwing betrayers to commit openly to what distinguishes America. Throughout this traditional affirmation, I find no white supremacy, no contempt for institutions, no cynical rejection of certified elections – certainly no endorsements for a violent Capitol insurrectionist coup orchestrated by a doubly-disgraced loser. Au contraire, there are values here worth the pledge.
Time to resurrect (without the outmoded invocation of divinity) this still useful commitment, as it stands: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation, [under God,] indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”
Right off, this Pledge refutes the Trumpist assault on national unity: there is nothing ambiguous about either “one nation” or “indivisible.” Our first, arguably key goal must be a modicum of unity, of greater importance to any “melting pot” (however flawed) as problems transcend regions (climate, pollution, economic growth, legitimacy of voting, racism, even transport and communication). Unity mandates the integration of diversity at times under one tent, still a noble quest that by any measure contradicts white supremacist extremism. Finally, any decent Yankee citizens either support “liberty and justice for all” or forego any right to brag about their phantom patriotism – or the “genius” of the Founders.
Reviving the good past
Thus the Pledge itself is an inspired answer to the hypocritical phonies like Trump, who in 2019 maligned opponents as if THEY disrespected the Pledge, “people are sick and tired of this stupidity and disloyalty to our wonderful USA!” Only disloyal (if not stupid) Trumpers stomp on American ideals with maliciously divisive, fascist fervor that demonizes (as no less than “enemies of the people”) liberals, pandemic scientists, journalists, immigrants, women, minorities and state election certifiers. No Trump opponent I know actively foments national disunity, nor undermines the ideal of “justice for all.” Brave activists work to control abuses by police, rightly seeking redress in the courts and focusing on peaceful elections. That directly opposes the facile default to the lowest-brow mob rebellion.
Obviously, perverse Trumpist insurrectionists not only betrayed the Constitution, our best legal traditions, and the Pledge of Allegiance but legitimately elected officials serving the republic’s majority. Why not force such criminal rebels to now recite the Pledge (as testifying witnesses pledge to tell the truth) or explain why they refuse such a commitment? Did these criminal traitors not benefit from democratic institutions that once served them as American citizens? Ditto, any treasonous, sore losers of a certified election – objecting only because they lost – are guilty of treachery against the American way of determining leadership and power.
Thus I propose renewing the centrality of the Pledge. I’d like to hear any criminal Trumpers recite it with a straight face, without exposing rank hypocrisy. Anyone who pledges to “the Republic” automatically endorses the Constitution that informs it, plus seemingly quaint, self-evident necessities like majority rule and elections as final deciders. No republic survives when elections do not instantly interrupt partisan campaigning, otherwise obliterating the critical distinction between partisanship and governance (even orderly power transfers). That’s the darkest side about immoral “stolen” election lies, turning politics into endless campaigning which devastates the decisive sovereignty of the majority. To reject elections is to deny what makes any democracy a republic and vice versa – the quintessence of sedition. Corrupting politics as endless campaigning is no less than a noxious political filibuster, wherein technical obstacles obstruct the will of the majority.
No equal-opportunity menace here
Without question, the political gang most responsible for dishonoring the Pledge is the Trumpist deviation of proto-fascism driving today’s rightwing excesses. The Pledge provides a standard by which those who respect reason and reality separate blatantly phony patriots from those who insist that power and privilege be balanced by principles and accountability. To defy, then impugn election results pisses on the Declaration, the Constitution, and the best of America. If one connives to deny elections their paramount place in democracy, why not defy law, courts, precedents and thus justice? No loyal, sentient, rational American can defend insurrectionist Trumpism without undermining the integrity of “one nation,” let alone the glory of “justice for all.”
Perhaps we should ask all voters to establish their good faith by endorsing the Pledge before gaining the privilege of the franchise. If you don’t support the Pledge, then what do you stand for? Injustice for all but white supremacists? Permanent privilege of the rich and predatory? While many object to the invocation “under God,” that disagreement pales compared to rejecting the heart of any republic: certified elections. Anyone who ruthlessly and lawlessly favors a violent minority coup, by definition the worst violation of democratic rule, jeopardizes their status as a citizen loyal to the Constitution.
Another Modest RB Proposal
We need a slight revision to the Pledge to bring it up to snuff. Let’s add a few words of clarification, drop the suspect God reference as obsolete (violating the division of church from state), then recommend that all good citizens happily endorse following, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, to the Republic and to majority rule confirmed by certified national elections, and to one Nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” Only those who don’t believe in America would refuse such a modest declaration.
After that, we can reconsider the even greater, opening aspiration: dedicating the mission of government to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” That mouthful of pregnant notions requires far more than a few words of clarification yet tests our national commitment to what the Founders invoked to justify both revolution and the formation of a democratic republic. If we don’t with some constancy renew values we claim to honor, then we risk dismissing what could well unify a diverse country. What entity survives without a mission statement? If we forego public commitments to the messiness of a republican democracy, sustained but faltering after 240 years, we allow reactionary anti-democrats more of a foothold than they deserve. Indeed, only commitment to the Constitution justifies the current outrage by a growing majority against a biased, theocratic Supreme Court that stands in opposition to “justice for all,” on voting, immigration, abortion, or who knows what looms next.