Dear President Trump,
“I do solemnly swear 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.”
Does this ring a bell somewhere in that lizard brain of yours? I know you were very (very) concerned with the size of your inauguration crowd relative to Obama’s crowd(s), but surely you remember repeating the bits of that oath as Chief Justice Roberts fed them to you even if you don’t exactly remember the whole sentence. It is kind of long.
Yesterday when I was thinking about trust and the ways that transitory trust (as in “if A trusts B and B trusts C then A trusts C”) is being abused and manipulated by you and yours, I decided to look up the oath of office you had to take when you were sworn in as POTUS. We both know that words are cheap and that many people can glibly, unblinkingly go through the motions of swearing oaths of loyalty to this or that with absolutely no intention behind the words, no commitment to following through on what they are saying. It’s just part of the game – you say what you are supposed to say so that you can move on to doing what you want to do. Even still, I wanted to see what you swore to do on that fateful day in January 2017.
Obviously, thankfully, I’m not in your head so I don’t definitively know whether you intended to give the presidency your all, whether you were committed to preserving, protecting, and defending the US Constitution. Maybe you were or maybe you really were just mouthing the words, chomping at the bit to be done so you could ban immigrants, trash the EPA and the Affordable Care Act, load up on some young right-wing judges, and basically, you know, do your patrons’ bidding.
There are three aspects of the presidential oath I want to draw your attention to, though I think they are your favorite parts so you may already be familiar with them.
First, I bet you were pleased that the oath focuses on the Constitution and doesn’t talk about caring for the people of the United States. While I do realize the Constitution is focused on us, I’m sure it was way easier to go through the motions of swearing fealty to a bunch of words than to have to pretend you planned to center the best interests of all the American people.
Second, how about that clause “….to the best of my ability….”? What a stroke of luck for someone like you – no matter how lame you are, you can claim you’re doing your best. Be best, eh? Ack.
Finally, I want to draw your attention to the word “execute” because I wonder which definition of it you were thinking of when you swore your oath. Here are the two primary contenders:
“to carry out or put into effect”
“to carry out a sentence of death on”
Let’s see how they each fit in that part of the sentence:
‘…faithfully carry out or put into effect the Office of President of the United States…’
‘…faithfully carry out a sentence of death on the Office of President of the United States…’
The first one is obviously the generally intended meaning even though when we swap it in, it’s pretty clunky. The second one should be heretical, but gosh does it flow smoothly – right? It just trips right along and if you said it real fast, or substituted a single word in there (i.e., “execute” of course), no one would be the wiser that you were swearing to kill the presidency, and with it democracy.
And here we are – both the presidency and democracy are gasping for air and fading fast. You’ve done your job well.
May we be safe from effective traitors.
May we be willing to scrap a system and culture that would allow this abomination.
May we figure out how the hell to rebuild wildly, radically differently.
May we accept that continuing as we are will take us off a cliff.