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In light of sharp partisanship in our Congress and throughout our country, I think it is time that we reexamine the pledge of allegiance. It states:

“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.”

This pledge is much more than making an oath to a piece of cloth. Since the flag represents the republic, this oath is actually being made to the republic. And this republic has its foundation and reason for existence in the Constitution of the United States of America. In effect, by reciting this pledge, we are making an oath of recognition to the authority of the Constitution.

Just as members of the armed forces, and elected members of our governmental bodies, take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, whenever we say the pledge of allegiance, we implicitly are giving our solemn troth to accept the Constitution as the legitimate law of the land from whence our governmental bodies receive their authority.

When we invoke reference to God, it is not the God of a particular religion or sect, rather anyone’s perception of a higher power as they practice their religion or other spiritual path. Historically, our colonies had many official religious sects, and the founders of our country did not wish any of them to dominate the others.

Reference to “liberty and justice for all” does not select any specific ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation or particular group to be privileged to dominate over others.

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While reflecting on the phrases in the pledge of allegiance, converse reasoning can lead to the conclusion that any action or inaction that causes individuals or groups to be deprived of the full measure of equal application and measure of the law, subverts the legitimacy and principles of the Constitution.

This is true whether it be in circumstances of being able to vote, accessibility to the benefits of citizenship or equal treatment in public accommodations.

If a person or group attempts or engages in planning and/or actions to violently disrupt the processes of government, especially in elections, then these people are, in fact, acting treasonously against the country and the Constitution. The legitimacy of our democracy is firmly based on elections in which the vote of the people selects who shall represent them in the Republic. One person, one vote is the sacred measure of equality within the electorate and before the law.

Attempts to subvert this process by certain legislative acts in certain states that limit accessibility and disqualify certain citizens of the ability to vote, are subversive measures against the rule of law in a democracy.

Today in our country, we are faced with groups who would forcibly and violently disrupt the function of government and discredit the function of elections. While the rest of us observe their activities, do we idly stand by, or do we review for ourselves the principles upon which our nation is founded, and take some measure to support and defend the rule of law and the Constitution?

Whenever we are present for recitation of the pledge of allegiance, do we truly feel and respect the words and their significance? Do we ponder whether we, as individuals or as a country, are living up to fidelity to the supreme law of the land, and to the republic upon which it stands?

Dr. Joseph I. Golden lives in Beckley.

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