When I swore to defend the Constitution of the United States of America, the words came automatically after four years at Annapolis. The year was 1972.
I, [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.
Reading those words this week, ten years after 9/11, it’s clear that the oath isn’t contingent on anything. There is no statute of limitations, and more important, there is no requirement for admiring the country associated with that Constitution. Which brings us to this inconvenient truth: America, despite whatever glories it may have, has been behaving badly for much of the past decade.
From the outrageous invasion of Iraq by George Bush ten years ago to the cowardly assault on freedom by Phil Berger two days ago, the political fabric of our country has devolved into an orgy of sleaze and secrecy. State or federal, take your pick. The whole corrupt mess stinks to high heaven.
On this day of mourning, I know that I will continue to support and defend our Constitution. But I am not proud of how our country has responded over the past ten years. We could have used our loss to create a more united nation and a more just world. Instead, we chose torture and killed hundreds of thousands of innocents. We still have bigots passing laws in Raleigh. And we're still in two endless wars half way around the world.
We can do better.