Making the pledge

Making the pledge

By M. L. Simon

By M. L. Simon

Making the pledge

The original pledge of allegiance was written in 1892 by utopian socialist Francis Bellamy, whose cousin authored the novel Looking Backward to express the utopian ideas Francis espoused. Their idea was to create a planned economy to insure social, economic, and political equality for all. So far, it hasn’t worked as planned. He wrote the pledge for a flag ceremony to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus coming to America. Francis was big in the NEA. (the National Education Association), so the pledge got distributed to schools all over America.

The original pledge reads: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Obviously, there have been a few changes over the years. There is a site by a man who wrote a book about the pledge at: who gives a good short history of the pledge.

Let us deal with the pledge as currently written:

“I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the REPUBLIC for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all.”

Starting at the beginning: “I pledge allegiance, to the flag.” Why on earth would rational humans pledge to follow a flag? No matter what. Flags have covered the good and the bad. Nixon loved to cover himself in a flag. Does that make me an automatic follower of Nixon if he covers himself in the flag? I hope not. No real American would ever pledge to a flag. What s/he might pledge to I will get to later.

Then we have “of the United States of America,” which was added so that immigrants would know which flag to keep in mind during the flag presentation at the flag ceremony. This at least keeps your average tin horn dictator from appropriating the fine symbol of our freedom or slavery depending. And for a while, that flag did represent actual 100 percent slavery. These days, for most of us, it has been reduced to about 33 percent not counting the aggravation. Such a deal.

“and to the REPUBLIC.” What does it mean, this Republic? Why not democracy? We have a republic because a republic stands for a government of limited powers. There are things that cannot be decided by a majority, such as the right to speak freely. The right to petition the government for redress of grievances. The right to practice the religion of your choice or none at all. These rights are so fundamental that even if the sections of the Constitution that guaranteed them were repealed they would still be in effect. This is what it means to live in a Republic. The individual can stand up to the state and sometimes win.

“for which it stands.” Well, the flag can stand for one thing one day and something else the next. This is not a standing you can navigate by.

“one Nation.” By 1892, this had been pretty well settled, but not to everyone’s liking. So we needed a reminder. The Civil (such as it was) War and the War for the Theft of California had pretty well settled the issue. One nation—sea to shining sea—with a few minor exceptions, such as women. But I’d say the sentiment was correct, if not the actual policies. We are doing better even if progress seems to come by the inch.

“under God”—requested by the Knights of Columbus, was added in 1954,—making the oath a pubic prayer. Well, we all know what Jesus said about public prayer. But hey, this is a Christian God-fearing nation. No need to listen to Jesus.

“indivisible” That Civil War thing again. I hear some Mexicans want California back these days. Some things are never properly settled. I note they haven’t asked for Texas. Probably too many Texans living there. Some still remember the Alamo. History is hardly ever settled, on any side. Americans are, for the most part, rational about this, though. They want to forget history. It is usually so inconvenient. And thank God, Americans hate inconveniences.

“with liberty and justice for all.” A very noble sentiment. And the proper purpose of the government of a Republic. We do not wish to have a government where wealth has its privileges. Neither do we want a government that steals from the poor or the rich. Government was one of the traditional means by which the rich stole from the poor. Today we also let the poor steal from the rich. Pretty soon, only the thieves will have any money. We are a work yet in progress on liberty and justice. Gaining ground in some areas, losing it in others.

So what would I replace the pledge with?

“I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America and to the Republic which it creates, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Since I have already covered the pledge, let me cover the changes and one part that I didn’t change.

Why the Constitution? Anyone can wrap themselves in a flag. It is more difficult to wrap one’s self in the charter of a strictly limited government. Every federal office holder in America is sworn to preserve and defend the Constitution. It is part of the military induction oath. Ordinary citizens should join in the effort to preserve and defend the Constitution, especially ordinary citizens.

“and the Republic which it creates” this is the key. The Constitution founded the Republic. The document defined its nature. Codified its limits. We are a Republic defined by a written Constitution.

Now the part that ought to be changed but I left the same. I’m against the “under God” bit as long as it is government mandated. But I will grant that there is a segment of the population very sentimental about its public displays of godliness, so for the sake of sentiment I’m willing to let this pass. We can come back to this some other day. No point in alienating everyone all at once.

That is it. A real American pledge.

At one point, though recited in public schools across America, the pledge was a private document subject to citizen input. In 1942, it was made a part of the official government flag code by Congress. There was a war on and patriotism needed to be enforced. It says in the flag code that any changes to the pledge must be made with the consent of the president. Well, I got news for him. The country is run by the people, not the president, at least according to the Constitution. So if you want to pledge to something infinitely more important to the country than the flag, pledge to the Constitution.

M.L. Simon is an industrial controls designer and independent political activist (c) M. Simon – All rights reserved. Permission granted for one time use in a single periodical publication. Permission also granted for concurrent publication on the periodical’s www site.

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