So I walked into the kitchen last night to make dinner and I could hear my mom helping my little brother with his history homework in the other room. He’s in 8th grade, learning about American government. She was teaching him how the presidency and Congress work, what the amendments are, etc. She told him how the president has to take an oath before he takes office.
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
But it’s all bullshit.
The president’s job isn’t to protect the Constitution or any law. It’s to break it or get around it the best he can so he can advance a political agenda. The oath is meaningless. It doesn’t reflect reality. It’s an anachronism. Our current president has done the exact opposite, and the only people who could have punished him for it have refused.
I should be happy today because of Wexler’s speech. Finally somebody doing something, right? But the fact is it’s late in the game. Everybody’s consumed with the
Change Lottery election now. The media’s not going to pay any attention, and even if they did they’d probably just be condescending and rude like usual. Even a lot of the folks around DKos, who you’d think would be pretty passionate about civil liberties, just throw their hands up and say, ‘Oh well, we don’t have the votes, best just give up.’
To be sure, I’m cynical too. I was born in the middle of the Reagan administration (YUCK), so I’ve never seen functional politics at work. BUT I always had faith in that one single thing, the Bill of Rights, thinking that I could ALWAYS rely on my beloved First Amendment. I (naively) thought that even for all the horrible things that go on in politics, at least I have my rights and they’re too sacred for any thug politician to ever threaten. Even when Bush was running amok saying he could spy on people without getting a warrant, holding people in prison without charging them with a crime, lying to us to force the war, forcing protesters into “freedom of speech zones”, stuff like outing Valerie Plame, and all that jazz, I STILL thought that as soon as the Democrats took back Congress we’d undo it, reprimand him and his rubber-stamp GOP congresses, and thus restore the Constitution’s authority. The Judiciary Committee would lead the charge to impeach and send a warning to any future presidents who would endanger our rights. But it didn’t happen. Besides throwing out Gonzales, there’ve been no consequences, no rebuke.
My little brother’s gonna get tested on all this stuff about how government works, how it’s set up, what Congress is supposed to do, what the president’s job is, but it’s just not true. Maybe in 1800, but not in 2008. The president does not exist to protect our rights and neither does Congress. The only people who can protect our rights are us.