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Thank you for your service

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"Thank you for your service!"  I say that phrase so often now, especially at boarding gates, when I'm in the frequent flyer line and the agent announces that retired or active-duty military can board before the "road warriors."  Now, as I watch war break out in Europe and — make no mistake, this is a war — that phrase means even more to me. Because I believe in my heart that these dedicated young men and women perhaps know more about who we are as a country than the average American. This is because those who choose to serve in harm's way for all of us pledge their allegiance, not to a flag or a country, but to a document — The United States Constitution.

Oath of enlistment  (10 U.S.C. § 502):

“I, ____________________, do solemnly swear 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; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me, God.”

Ask yourself, if you, like I, never served in the military or civil service, what pledge of allegiance have you given in your lifetime? The answer for me is that for 14-years (pre-school through my senior year at high school), I was directed to stand and pledge my allegiance to a flag. However, I was not taught about our Constitutional Democracy until middle school.

For centuries The United States Constitution, that our brave, selfless warriors have fought for — with some giving that “last full measure” for — safeguards the interests of a majority rule while ensuring minority rights of liberty and equality. 

America's ability to achieve critical consensus is what the Constitution is all about. James Madison believed that forming a strong national government and separating powers across competing institutions would help us coexist peacefully in a pluralist democracy, where opposing groups and factions live equally in one society. In short, as Americans, we must all get along. We must coexist and mutually agree to respectfully disagree with each other — period!

The way I interpret the root cause of this homeland conflict between us lies within our societal fringes. Those on the very, very far right have adopted a philosophy that would prefer an authoritarian system of government, rejecting any political plurality and reducing the separation of powers. And the very, very far left refuses to accept the dualism inherent in our democracy by not allowing or tolerating any of their leaders to move to the center on any liberal issues, thus avoiding any hope of consensuses between our two parties. And finally, the media plays against this burning anger we have with each other, "fanning the flames" to gain readers and ratings.

I guess my point is this, how we expose our American youth to civics and service may be a key way we can begin to find some peace here at home as we try to end (or at least abate) these endless culture wars.

Would it not be interesting in the years to come if we were to see in the front of our classrooms a framed copy of The Constitution (along with the flag) and perhaps change our pledge slightly to begin:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag and the Constitution of the United States of America….."

Mike Blinder is the publisher of  Editor & Publisher Magazine (E&P) and C.E.O. (chief evangelist officer) of its parent company, The Curated Experiences Group. E&P has served as the authoritative voice of the news publishing industry for over 140 years. Mike hosts the magazine's popular Vodcast series "E&P Reports.” He is also the author of “Survival Selling,” a popular media-based, business-to-business sales guide. He can be reached  at Mike@EditorandPublisher.com. More at: http://www.MikeBlinder.com

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  • guilfordlady

    The main reason why we don't have consensus on democracy these days is this: high schools stopped REQUIRING passing a course in Civics (Government) years ago. The typical adult cannot answer basic questions about how our democracy works -- Checks and Balances, Amendments, Elections, Oversight, Committees of Congress, etc. For a golden period of time, many newspapers had Newspaper in Education programs where every student was given a newspaper and assignments to find articles relating to constitutional government. Learning about Fact and Opinion was also the basic part of the curriculum. Sadly, nearly all local publishers killed the very popular NIE program some 15 years ago. A whole generation now thinks accurate news comes from social media.

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