“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”
– US Oath of Allegiance
The enemy that struck 17 years ago was clearly foreign. But what do you do when the enemy is within?
The enemy of my enemy is?
The recent editorial by an anonymous senior government official in the New York Times left me uneasy. While it’s been clear for some time that I may not share the same political agenda as the person currently occupying the office of the president, I do believe in the presidency.
So when a senior government official claims to operate outside of the constraints of government and/or the administration he/she is supposed to support, I have grave concerns. Many will say that unusual times require unusual steps but what I worry about is the future. What precedent does this set for future administration? Does it mean that people in the cabinet get to choose and pick which policies they decide to support and which ones they do not?
As surprising as it may sound, earlier generations actually anticipated times like ours and created the appropriate mechanisms to deal with issues that would throw one branch of government in imbalance with the other ones. Whether it is the 25th amendment or the emolument clause or impeachment, there are many tools to deal with a sitting president. So if one believes that the current president is unfit for office, there are many mechanisms in place to deal with such effect.
And if those in power are unable or unwilling to do their duty, there is also a mechanism in place called elections (Few may remember that 9/11 was actually a New York primary). Going beyond my feelings about 9/11, I believe that it is your duty, if you can, to vote. Get informed and get out to the polls as it is the most basic way in which you can engage.
Apathy: The new enemy of Democracy
In the 2016 presidential election, 58% of eligible voters went to the polls. And in the mid-term elections of 2014, a mere 36.4% of eligible voters showed up. That is barely 1 in 3 eligible voters.
In a world where 2 out of 3 people fail to engage in even the most basic of civic duties, the single biggest domestic enemy to the United States democratic ideals is APATHY.
While millions have died to ensure that most citizens in this country could vote, the vast majority of the country is ignoring their duty to do so.
On 9/11, when flight 93 was taken over by terrorists, some of the passengers did not stand by, they did not yield, and they saved countless lives by taking on the enemy, sacrificing themselves so others would not die. They could have sat by and done nothing. But they did not remain apathetic and THEY saved untold numbers of lives and other potential scars from the American psyche.
If you are eligible to vote, it is now your turn to honor those heroes by doing a simple thing: by going out and voting. By choosing participation in our democracy and putting in office the people who best reflect your ideals.
Note that I’m not advocating for one party over another. It is because ultimately, while I do have certain political preferences, I do not want to impose them on you. What I DO want is for you to participate. If your political views are aligned with mine, great: you will help my side represent and hopefully win. If your political views are not aligned with mine, great: you will take a step for your own principles and I respect that. But if you fail to participate, you will not only fail those who have died to give you the right to vote but also all those who were sacrificed because others believed that our free elections are a plague on their worldview.
9/11 was a day when terrorist attempted to attack the very foundation of our belief because they saw the right to vote as counter to their autocratic view. This 9/11 think hard about what that right is and consider what people want to do with it. And once you have, remember to either register if you haven’t yet and, mark election day on your calendar, and make sure that you show up at the poll.
So if you believe in honoring the fallen, if you believe in defending democracy, if you believe in America, go out and vote. If you believe in the values that make America great, get others to go out and vote. If you believe in the future of democracy, get involved in voting drives.
Whatever you do, honor those who died on 9/11 with the most powerful tool in your hands: your vote!
Carlos Dominguez, Mark Ellis, Melissa Vincent, Michael DiPasquale, Cynthia Giugliano, Jeremy Glick, David Halderman, Steve Weinberg, Gerard Jean Baptiste, Tom McCann, David Vera.
This post is part of a continuing series in which I remember those I knew who were lost on that day. Here are the previous years: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, and 2002. For context, you might want to read The day after, which is about as raw as one can get about that day as I wrote that piece less than 36 hours after the first plane hit. This is the longest series I’ve ever written and I expect to continue yearly until I can no longer write.