A strong and independent civil service is core to any healthy democracy, and always has been in America. That’s why Protect Democracy is helping with #UpholdTheOath, a project to celebrate civil servants and the 2.7 million hardworking patriotic people who have dedicated their careers to helping improve the daily lives of all Americans, regardless of party affiliation or personal ideology.
#UpholdTheOath gives federal employees the opportunity to publicly proclaim your love of country and dedication to service by submitting a video reciting your oath of office. Once there’s a critical mass, the videos will be released publicly as a show of patriotism, unity, and commitment to the Constitution.
Yascha Mounk, a lecturer on government at Harvard, writes in Slate about the project:
This is precisely why the Founding Fathers insisted that the primary duty of American citizens should be to a set of ideas and institutions, not to a particular person. And so any immigrant who wishes to become a U.S. citizen, any soldier who wishes to enlist in the military and any civil servant or political appointee who wishes to take up office must, to this day, swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” It is this fundamental tradition that Trump—acting more like an Old World monarch who is used to demanding fealty from his subjects—was attacking when he asked Comey to pledge his personal loyalty.
As Ian Bassin, a former White House lawyer and the founding director of Protect Democracy, told me, “The understanding in our society is that certain institutions are expected to be independent of any administration’s partisan or personal preferences. And we’re at a moment right now where this independence is being challenged—not just in individual cases like the Comey firing, but as a concept. So maintaining that we in America believe in the importance of that independence is one of the key challenges we face right now.”
At the #UpholdTheOath website, Gold Star father Khizr Khan also speaks on video about his own experience learning the need for a robust, independent civil service.
If you are or even have been an American federal civil servant, lend your voice to the chorus so we can all celebrate what the service means for our country and our democracy.