discomfort (2006-40)

Discharge of Duty

Is that duty to seek re-election above all else?

by Steve Dupree

There I was, in my car on my way to the salt mines. As is my usual habit in the mornings, I had NPR on as I drove. The news reader, or show host, or whatever you call a radio personality who doesn’t spin discs, was introducing his next story, which happened to be about the new session of Congress. He made the claim that the top priority, for many of the congressfolk, would be holding onto their seats.

Without rancor, sarcasm, bitterness or cynicism he says this. If anything, there was a touch of apparent amusement in his voice, kind of what you might expect from a parent describing an innocently mischievous act of a “good kid.” I, on the other hand, was not at all amused.

So there I was once more, yelling at my radio. I wasn’t even sure what deserved the worst and first of my ire, but pretty quickly settled on such congresscritters, as may have been accurately described by that claim.

Of course I wasn’t shocked or surprised. At pretty much all levels of government we see those for whom the will of the people means little to nothing. We see those who can’t seem to remember any of the oath to which they swore in taking the office that they begged, borrowed, and possibly stole, to get. God forbid they should remember and keep a campaign promise. Nope, all of that goes right by the wayside, and the most important thing becomes them getting re-elected. Their re-election becomes their highest priority. Am I the only one that this attitude makes mad?

No, seriously, I want to know the answer to that question because a close second place in the contest for the worst of my ire is those who are willing to accept this crap as OK and/or business as usual. Those of you who are not bothered by elected officials who have as their top priority not effective governance, not the fulfillment of their duties to the citizenry, not the things they swore with a hand on a Bible that they would do, you people really chap my ass. You see, normally it would be a simple case of you getting the government that you deserve. If it stopped there, I could cast a sympathetic eye in your direction and go on my merry way, hoping that one day you survive to come to your senses. Instead, here I am through no fault or failing of my own (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!), stuck with the government that you deserve. That just plain sucks.

This column has a prescribed length, so I will not bother talking about county or city elected officials. I’m even going to skip state offices as you will easily be able to apply the things that I will say if you feel so moved. All I shall talk about is the United States House of Representatives.

“I, [insert name], 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 on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

The oath quoted above must be the highest priority of the congressperson. Strong suspicions, even, that anything else has a higher priority indicate at the very least a lack of confidence, without which an individual simply cannot lead. Proof of anything else as a higher priority is reason for forcible removal of the individual from the office, as they clearly acquired the office fraudulently. The good of the nation, the good of their specific constituency, and the wishes of their constituency are all valid priorities, but must be subordinate to the oath they swore. After all those considerations, and only after them, I find it reasonable that the re-election of the official be appended to the list. If they cannot see and agree to that, they must be made to temporarily or permanently relinquish the office.

It is perfectly fine for an employee or family member of the congressperson to have re-election as their highest priority. It is within the realm of reason for the DNC or RNC to express such. If a plain Jane/Joe Citizen wants to call the re-election of a known politician their highest priority, so be it, but the elected official must be held to a higher standard. They must be held to the verbiage of the oath they swore.

I have no power to demand that my fellow citizens get angry at the things that make me angry. Any expectations I might have that you all will hold elected officials to their oaths might well be dashed.  However, I will beg and plead that you remember that I too will have to deal with the government that you deserve. Please, cut a brotha some slack.