Thursday, 27 November 2008


I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

So says every child, every morning, in every school in the United States. It seems quaint to us Britons, of course. But then, so does today’s annual celebration of the Puritans, of all people, as heroes of freedom of conscience.

Yet by all means give thanks for America, for the things to which every child there pledges allegiance every day.

First off, “the Flag of the United States, and the Republic for which it stands”. It is precisely that, a republic. It is not an empire. It is of laws, not of men. The man who is President is not the office. And even the office is not the law.

Nor is the American Republic a majoritarian tyranny. The Senate or the Electoral College may throw up anomalies, even occasional apparent outrages. But they are hugely successful preventative measures against far worse and more frequent outrages.

That Republic is “one nation”. It is equally one and a nation. It is not a colony of global capital or world government. A melting pot it may be, but it is not some sort of giant landing strip where everyone is entitled to be, since in that case no one would really belong there.

But what of “under God”? It means that the Republic acknowledges a higher moral law in all things, primarily the sanctity of each individual human life, whether of the unborn or of the very old, whether of Appalachian military heroes or of Iraqi women and children.

And it means that the Republic honours the traditions by, in, through and as which it has received that acknowledgement, drawing on them directly and explicitly in the organisation of its affairs. The phrase “the separation of Church and State” does not occur in the Constitution. If it did, then there would still be slavery in America.

That the Republic is “indivisible” means that it is invisible by poverty, racism, refusal to speak English, or anything else.

“Liberty” includes liberty from hunger, from ignorance, from preventable or treatable illness, from homelessness or squalor, from idleness, from illegal or otherwise unfair competition, from torture, from the “Patriot” Act, from avoidable wars, and from the whipping up of hostility to America abroad.

“Justice” includes a job, a decent home and standard of living, education, healthcare, strictly legal and strictly limited immigration, due process of law, national security, and peace.

And “for all” means not only for Wall Street. Not only for those who can afford health insurance, or college fees, or the best lawyers. Not only for those who can afford to avoid tax.

Not only for those who meet ethnic or gender quotas, or who can find their way around in Spanish as well as in English. And not only for those who can, and want to, keep their families away from military service.


  1. What a shame about Proposition 8 then, eh?

  2. "Liberty and Justice for all"?

  3. Within the one nation, under God, indivisible.

  4. But there clearly is a division - people who can legally marry partners of their own choosing, and people who can't.

    Not feeling the liberty.

  5. Marriage is the union of one man and one woman, by definition. Within that definition, anyone can legally marry the partner of his or her choosing.

    And that is the definition affirmed at the ballot box by the voters of California and Florida at exactly the same time as they gave their states' respective Electoral College votes to Obama.

    Who, it should be added, shares that definition of marriage.

  6. But all that is still at odds with the notion of "liberty and justice for all". It seems the Californians don't understand their own pledge.

  7. Definition of marriage as one man and one woman has been a condition of admission to the Union, specifically in the case of Utah.

    Deviation from that legal definition is not compatible with being one nation and indivisible. It is a form of secessionism.

  8. "Marriage is the union of one man and one woman, by definition. Within that definition, anyone can legally marry the partner of his or her choosing"

    Sigh - but that's a totally circular argument. I could pass a law that said only lizards got to marry. You might say that wasn;t very liberal. I would reply - yes it is - by definition, only lizards can marry, but they can marry who they want.

    The question is whether the definition is right. A true reading of liberty for all suggests it isn't.

    And I wish you wouldn'd disemble - you don't like homos*xuality, so just say so.

  9. Exactly.

    No wonder that Proposition 8's opponents have been picketing the centres of Harry Reid's religion.

    Of course, they couldn't picket the churches of those who, since they live in California, actually approved Proposition 8. But Mormons are rarely either black or Hispanic, so they are fair game.

  10. Well, I don't have your apparent hang-up about writing the word, Ax: homosexuality, there you are.

    I don't approve of the "gay" movement, no. The idea that engaging, or being inclined to engage, in homosexual acts defines some sort of personal or collective identity is not yet forty years old, historically and anthropologically illiterate, and an invention of pederasts in places like the Stone Wall Inn.

    It also post-dates by several years my own country's humane and necessary decriminalisation of homosexual acts between consenting adults in private.

    And it is on the way out, anyway.

  11. "Nor is the American Republic a majoritarian tyranny. "

    "..and that is the definition affirmed at the ballot box by the voters of California and Florida"

    One of us is confused.

  12. Care to elucidate?

    If you're going to make the legal definition of rights subject to popular vote, you've got the very definition of a tyranny of the majority.

  13. You people really do despise democracy, don't you?

    You are, of course, used to your own way, and therefore cannot cope with any sort of challenge, never mind defeat.

  14. Marriage like everything else should be defined only by yoletr.

  15. Apparently so.

    After all, it cannot be defined by, say, Barack Obama, or Harry Reid, can it?

  16. Well no. Not in a democracy, or a republic.

  17. They really are smarting over Prop 8, they cannot understand how anyone dare disagree with them like this, never mind vote for Obama at the same time.

    They have to ignore Obama's own views just like they have to concentrate on the LDS instead of on the African-American and Latino-American Californians who passed Prop 8 while voting for Obama.