On entering service, every soldier swears an oath that requires, in part, obedience to the President and the officers appointed over them. But that is only the last part of the oath. First we swear “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” That same oath to the Constitution is also sworn by all government officials and workers. The oath is a reminder that the Constitution is more important than the person who holds the office. Preservation of the system of government established by the Constitution and the rights and freedoms it guarantees is paramount.
Understanding this, it concerns me when I see the demonstrations taking place across the country in protest over the Presidential election results. The simple fact is that there is no hint that there was anything unconstitutional or illegal about the elections and, like it or not, Donald Trump is the legitimate President-elect. The election process and the peaceful transfer of power enshrined in the Constitution is what is important. Those who have sworn the oath have no choice but to support the President unless his actions put him in conflict with the Constitution.
While I understand and share the feelings of fear and disgust that have sparked these gatherings, there is a part of me that fears that they will be perceived as the acts of spoiled children who did not get their way, especially when they descend into violence. However, I am even more disgusted by the reports of hate crimes that have occurred across the nation in the past few days. This, too, is a violation of everything the Constitution stands for and now is not the time to stand silent. The right of assembly was so important that it is enshrined in the First Amendment. People have the right to gather and express their concern.
I do not believe these demonstrations should be focused on showing disgust with President-elect Trump as an individual or about the election. I believe that instead they should be used to send a strong message to our new government in waiting: campaign rhetoric is one thing but you’d best step carefully before seeking to erode the rights of our citizens. There are an awful lot of us out here who understand that the Constitution is much more important than you are.