The Primacy of the People

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) during his election night rally in Chicago, November 4, 2008.

We have long believed, as an American people, that we are a nation of laws, and not of men. We have long professed our belief that no man is above the law. And we have, even in our lifetimes, seen this belief played out in actual practice – we have seen presidents impeached (Clinton) or forced to resign under threat of impeachment (Nixon), and we have seen vice-presidents forced to resign because they were charged with crimes in office (Agnew), and powerful members of Congress have been forced out, even imprisoned, because they misbehaved (Franken, Conyers, several others; Mills, Rostenkowski, and others in the past).

In America, we respect the office of president – but we do so only because that respect is earned. It is earned by a president who is respectful of others, in word, in deed, and in policy.

So – as Americans – we do not pledge our fealty to the president, as we once did to a king, or as others must to a dictator or a strong-man. We trust in the law. We trust in the institution of government, a government that is, in the end, made up of all of us, all of the people, a government that creates the law by which we agree to be governed.

If – as Americans – we are loyal, we are loyal to the law.

If – as Americans – we pledge allegiance, we pledge allegiance to the republic, to the nation, and to the people of that nation.

If – as Americans – we respect the president, it is because the president has earned our respect.

That is how it has always been. And that is how it should be. As Americans.

Photo credit: REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES)