What the Oath of Office Means

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4 mins read
"US Flag" by jnn1776. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I am appalled at the conduct of many of these members who are clearly derelict in their duties with regard to their oath of office.

I’ve had the honor to take the oath of office as an officer in the United States Air Force and have administered the oath in commissioning over 150 new officers. I also lectured at the USAF Officer Training School on the meaning of the oath of office and what it means to be a commissioned officer. This oath is nearly identical to the oath taken by members of congress. The oath states:

“I do solemnly swear [OR AFFIRM] that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter.”

Two main areas stand out: to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office. First, one does not swear to support the President, the country, the flag, or a particular organization—rather, the Constitution. This is an important point and one carefully considered by the founders. In England, people had to swear loyalty to the reigning monarch; in Nazi Germany, Hitler required an oath of allegiance to him personally. Justice Story, in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, wrote that those sworn to support the Constitution are “conscientiously bound to abstain from all acts inconsistent with it.” 

Secondly, what does “well and faithfully” really mean? The dictionary definition of well includes “with skill or aptitude” and “to a high degree.” Faithfully is defined as “firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty” or “given with strong assurance.” Seems fairly straightforward. 

Why, then, do we tolerate elected representatives who, on a daily basis, brazenly and without conscience, violate this sacred oath by defending an individual and a political party rather than the constitutional principles they have sworn to uphold? How can they possibly believe they’re doing their sworn duty when they openly support and, in fact, enable a president who has, by his own admission, committed a crime while in office? Who continues to block efforts by their very own branch of government to perform checks and balances? Who lies to the American people multiple times daily?

Sadly, our current member of congress (I refuse to award him the title of “representative,” as he does not represent the values of North Carolina’s 11th District), is among the most egregious offenders. His blind loyalty to the president as an individual and to the ultra-conservative wing of the party make him a blatant accomplice to the wrongdoing throughout the entire executive branch.

This is wrong, and we can correct it in 2020. I will take the oath of office very seriously in January 2021, and I can promise that no one will ever be able to question my motives or my loyalty to the constitution of the United States. If you agree that we deserve better, help me win in 2020 and bring real representation back to the 11th district.

Retired USAF officer, PhD in organization & management, former NCAA women's basketball official.
Candidate for Congress in the North Carolina 11th District.

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