Oaths Of Office & The Common Good
Ben Franklin once said, “The good we do together surpasses the good we can do alone.” The meaning of that statement has stayed with me throughout all my endeavors to work for the common good, especially throughout my teaching career. It should be internalized by all those who seek an office in our government, at every level, in our democracy.
So, it is astounding to me how many elected officials don’t know or care what their oaths of office to The People and the Constitution really mean. A conversation that I had with the Lt. Governor a few years ago offered a shocking realization. In her presentation to a large group of elders she bragged about the $25 that all would get back but she had no idea of what the huge amount of money being cut from elders’ safety net, enabling this, actually took away from them.
When I met with her one on one I pointed out various things the people would not have any more – like inexpensive transportation to and from medical appointments. When we talked she said that because we were from 2 opposite political parties we would never agree. I said that that was not the issue here. I asked her if she remembered her oath of office. I reminded her that she swore to represent all the people now and that oath necessarily was void of political affiliation in a democracy.
Her answer was to give me her calling card. She is now seeking the office of governor and is accepting huge donations of “dark money” that can’t easily be traced, like that from The Honor’s Trust where monies can come from all over the world.
Citizens United has more than blurred the meaning of oaths of office. Now oaths seem like mindless sayings so that power can be usurped by oligarchs whose purpose is to turn democracies into autocracies or dictatorships that facilitate usurping the peoples’ money to favor oligarchs through their sycophants that they help get into office.
While that effort was “undercover” for many years (see history of the Council for National Policy and American Legislative Exchange Council for example) it is now widely known that billionaire oligarchs across the world can now curry favor in the U.S.A.’s elections. (An aside, I calculated how many years it would take me to earn 1 billion dollars at the rate of income I had when I retired. It would take me over 20,000 years to earn $1,000,000,000 if I didn’t spend one dollar! We now have over 745 oligarchs in the U.S.A. while Russia has over 115 who are multi billionaires!)
To improve the chances of getting more qualified candidates my thought is that if an individual wants to run for office they should have to pass a competency test – like the one which an immigrant takes when becoming a U.S. citizen. The “loop holes” that some politicians complain about with immigrants would be addressed with how actual politicians qualify on that same test as a citizen of our democracy. Maybe then we could possibly hold elected officials more accountable to their oaths of office and dismiss politicians who are loyal only to those who finance their campaigns. That, in addition to amending the constitution to get rid of Citizens United could help save our democracy.