Over the past year, there have been a lot of stories about various conservatives – and conservative elected officials – pushing “remedies” for various things they see as “wrong.” A candidate for the state House in Florida suggested that illegal immigrants be rounded up into internment camps. A candidate for Governor in New York wants to turn underused prisons into work camps for welfare recipients. An executive of one of the conservative groups advocates against the building of any mosques in this country. Elected officials make statements about the removal of birthright citizenship.
What’s to stop them? A most inconvenient document. It’s called the the Constitution of the United States. It has a set of rules which prevent people from doing those things. They’re called things like called “due process,” “freedom of speech,” “freedom of religion.” It gets in the way of what they want to do. Yet the very same people will turn around and wrap themselves in that same document when it supports (or they think it does) something that they want.
It’s a common phenomenon. In government, religion, or even business, people like to pick and choose the parts they agree with, and ignore the parts they don’t. But that’s the problem. You see, you can’t ignore those other parts. Each federal official swears to the same oath – including Members of Congress:
“I, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or 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.”
Members of the military swear a similar oath, and most state officials on entering office will swear to an oath to uphold their state and the United States constitutions. From the statements of various politicians recently, it seems that they forgot that oath. It’s politically inconvenient. It’s wonderful when you are supported by something it says you have a right to. Want to own guns? As much as liberals hate the 2’nd Amendment, it does say that you can. Want to hold a big march on Washington to protest something? As long as you’re peaceful, you can – and they have. Get arrested for something? Everyone by now knows their Miranda rights. Like going to your church, and not having to worry about the government regulating it? You do. All of it is nice when it’s you. When you agree with it. But when you don’t? Sorry. Those rights you enjoy, the things you take for granted are guaranteed to them as well.
It’s not always easy to “support and defend.” It’s not always politically popular. But that’s the way it works, and a lot of people who are claiming to want to “restore the Constitution” (according to a bumper sticker I just saw) or wrap themselves with it when they make a politically popular statement at variance to it seem to want to forget that. You still have to support the Constitution even when it means something you don’t agree with. Because at some point it will be politically popular to disagree with what you want, and it will support you. It’s a most inconvenient document – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.