That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.
I first took the oath in 1990 and repeated it multiple times throughout a military career that lasted through 2015. It is the oath that every military officer takes. It is notable, and a distinguishing characteristic of our republic, that the oath does not require loyalty to, or even mention, the President or any political party. Rather, it is to the document itself that we pledged our lives and defense. I was not released from my promise when I retired from the military. Sadly, it seems others have forgotten their oaths.
On December 1st, 2020, the Washington Times ran a full page ad in which a group named “We the People Convention” decried the results of the election and called for President Trump to be ready to “…temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of these federal elections, for the sole purpose of having the military oversee a national re-vote.”
Now, ignoring outrageous speech uttered by minority fringe groups is often the correct course of action. Doing otherwise gives an audience and oxygen to an argument that deserves neither. The very document I swore to defend guarantees the right of people to have free political speech, even when it is abhorrent. The “We The People Convention” has the right to speak outrageous things or run them as ads in newspapers.
Yet, the Washington Times, a nationally read newspaper, is not obligated to give their platform to anyone. They chose to run this ad anyway, giving the call a bigger megaphone than it deserves.
It was made even worse when recently pardoned and retired military general Michael Flynn, a former National Security Advisor, retweeted the organization’s call for the suspension of the Constitution. Asked about the ad, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh Mcenany simply referred to Flynn’s service on the battlefield and in government without commenting at all on the call for martial law and the suspension of the Constitution. The President’s silence was deafening, considering his oath was nearly identical to mine.
This situation left me feeling literally sick to my stomach. I had never seen anything like this.
Regardless, my oath forbids me from remaining silent or inactive in the face of national level calls to suspend the Constitution. I must act in defense of it. I must bear true faith and allegiance to it. The group and its ad should not be banned. They should, however, be countered with our own free speech. National calls to suspend the Constitution which are echoed by former government officials cannot be met with silence.
I spoke out against the ad on social media. I wrote the Washington Times to express my outrage that they would run the ad, and to let them know I am taking them off my list of news sources I read. I wrote my federal elected officials to demand they condemn any calls to suspend the Constitution. I urged others to do the same.
Every true patriot, regardless of political party, should have spoken out against this in similar ways. I cannot remember any other time in my life that retired military generals, including a former National Security Advisor, openly called for the suspension of the Constitution on a national stage. This is not business or politics as usual. This can not be normalized. Republicans should not overlook this because it is members of their own party making the call.
In our country, you take your evidence about election problems to the courts. If you lose, you make your appeals until the Supreme Court resolves the issue, as designed by our Constitution. If you lose, you move on with your life. At no point do you suspend the Constitution and declare martial law. That is the stuff of dictatorships overseas.
I fear, though, that having happened once, people will allow such calls to become a normal part of politics. It terrifies me.
It is beyond my ability to comprehend how General Flynn reconciles his military officer oath with a call to suspend the very document he’s sworn to bear faith and allegiance to, and to defend with his life. The rest of us who have taken the oath, and the rest of the country, need not forget our responsibility to keep our republic.
James Seddon is a father, husband, author, Navy veteran, speaker, military veteran activist, IT manager, and regularly unsuccessful fisherman living in Southern California. Find him at https://james-seddon-author.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/jamesseddonauthor