Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Voting party over policy is a major dynamic in our electoral system, present in both Republican and Democratic sides of the Duopoly. Making loyalty to a party, or person, the basis for voting (and then for governing) is one of the most significant factors in keeping us stuck in our limiting either / or choices.
On May 1, Obama released the “Presidential Proclamation – Loyalty Day, 2012.” It’s what WH occupants do, so nothing unique to him, even though the Day is largely unknown. What it represents, though, is essential to the Two Party Front for the Oligarchy’s successful restriction of our options. The May Day actions are over, but the Loyalty Day framing is present, every day, and every election.
Renaming, and rebranding, May Day to “Loyalty Day” was done in 1958, by Congress, then signed by Eisenhower the next year. I wrote about this here. That rebranding – or to put it another way, that effort to change the subject – isn’t Obama’s doing. But the proclamation he issued – as May Day actions organized by Occupy, labor unions, immigration advocates, students and more were happening – is a good, or bad, illustration of the marketing that helps maintain the gap that exists between Electeds, Elites, 1%-ers – however you refer to them – and the rest of us. A focus on “loyalty” to the Constitution and our “proud heritage” isn’t bad in itself. But when “loyalty” is defined by those Electeds, Elites and 1%-ers in ways meant to benefit the definers, there’s a problem.
The proclamation is a familiar jumble of patriotic, feel good words that mostly serve as a distraction, a way to change an unpleasant (to the Electeds and Elites) subject insisted on by, in this case, people who focused on May Day concerns. We aren’t supposed to think, we’re supposed to pat ourselves and each other on the back for being “loyal.” And “loyal” citizens don’t rock the Two Party boat, and certainly don’t take May Day type concerns seriously. Because then, you’d be a communist or a socialist, kind of like using “Forward” as a campaign slogan is communist or socialist.
The Presidential Proclamation – Loyalty Day, 2012 follows. (All bolding is mine, indicating what might be tenuously related to 2012 realities for the 99%).
More than two centuries ago, our Founders laid out a charter that assured the rule of law and the rights of man. Through times of tranquility and the throes of change, the Constitution has always guided our course toward fulfilling that most noble promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve the chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. America has carried on not only for the skill or vision of history’s celebrated figures, but also for the generations who have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears and true to our founding documents. On Loyalty Day, we reflect on that proud heritage and press on in the long journey toward prosperity for all.
In the years since our Constitution was penned and ratified, Americans have moved our Nation forward by embracing a commitment to each other, to the fundamental principles that unite us, and to the future we share. We weathered the storms of civil war and segregation, of conflicts that spanned continents. We overcame threats from within and without – from the specter of fascism abroad to the bitter injustice of disenfranchisement at home. We upheld the spirit of service at the core of our democracy, and we widened the circle of opportunity not just for a privileged few, but for the ambitious many. Time and again, men and women achieved what seemed impossible by joining imagination to common purpose and necessity to courage. That legacy still burns brightly, and the ideals it embodies remain a light to all the world.
Countless Americans demonstrate that same dedication to country today. It endures in the hearts of all who put their lives on the line to defend the land they love, just as it moves millions to improve their communities through volunteerism and civic participation. Their actions help ensure prosperity for this generation and those yet to come, and they honor the immutable truths enshrined in our Nation’s founding texts. On Loyalty Day, we rededicate ourselves to the common good, to the cornerstones of liberty, equality, and justice, and to the unending pursuit of a more perfect Union.
In order to recognize the American spirit of loyalty and the sacrifices that so many have made for our Nation, the Congress, by Public Law 85-529 as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as “Loyalty Day.” On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America, our Constitution, and our founding values.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2012, as Loyalty Day. This Loyalty Day, I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance, whether by displaying the flag of the United States or pledging allegiance to the Republic for which it stands.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.
I’m not demeaning displaying the flag and pledging allegiance to the Republic. But if that’s all that happens on Loyalty Day and every other day, then we really, really need to remember May Day, and keep the 99% efforts going into the days and weeks and months, and yes, years, ahead. And very importantly, we need to pay attention to who’s claiming, and defining, our “loyalty.”
(Puppet graphic via Occupy Wall Street)