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“To Support and Defend the Constitution”

The presidential election in

November really was like

no other that I remember

(going back to 1940) or have

read about (all the others).

Just about everybody—the

pollsters, media, pundits,

the academy, late-night

comics, entertainers, all

Democrats, most Republi-

cans and you and I—got it

wrong. Even President-elect

Donald Trump’s supporters

were stunned, and the shock

of the coastal elites was

palpable.

Within this maelstrom of

emotion there are reports

that some of our less experi-

enced Foreign Service officer

and specialist colleagues are

confused and asking their

peers and mentors what they

are supposed to do now. The

implication is that they are

questioning how to serve the

incoming president.

I hope that these reports

are inaccurate and exagger-

ated. But just in case such

thoughts hover in the minds

of some colleagues, let me

table a direct response.

The answer, of course, is

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017

51

pure and simple: all serv-

ing members of the Foreign

Service should continue to

honor their oath of office

by showing up for work and

bringing all of their energy

and talents to the tasks

assigned.

Let’s go back to the

basics surrounding our oath

“to support and defend the

Constitution of the United

States.” Article II of the U.S.

Constitution deals with the

executive branch. There are

only five executive branch

officers of government men-

tioned in Article II. Obviously,

the first two are the presi-

dent and vice president. The

other three are diplomatic

positions: ambassadors,

ministers and consuls. We

are all constitutional officers.

The president of the Con-

stitutional Convention was

General George Washing-

ton. One of the outstanding

operational and intellectual

leaders was Lt. Colonel Alex-

ander Hamilton. They and

their colleagues knew from

experience that the very suc-

cessful diplomacy of Frank-

lin, Jefferson, Adams and the

others enabled victory in war

and made the formation of

the United States possible.

The Constitution reflects the

fact that, for the founders,

diplomacy mattered.

Specifically, Article

II, Section 2 states, “The

President shall nominate

and, by and with the advice

and consent of the Sen-

ate, appoint Ambassadors,

other public Ministers and

Consuls, Judges of the

Supreme Court” and others

We do not swear allegiance to an emperor, a king, a president,

a political party, the blood of our ancestors or the like.

We swear allegiance to a document with specific ideas and

structures for governance. That is a wonderful concept.

as established by statute—

for example, the Secretary

of State.

Every diplomat since the

enactment of the Constitu-

tion has sworn in his or her

oath of office “to support

and defend the Constitution

of the United States.”We do

not swear allegiance to an

emperor, a king, a president,

a political party, the blood of

our ancestors or the like. We

swear allegiance to a docu-

ment with specific ideas and

structures for governance.

That is a wonderful concept.

Every Foreign Service

officer and specialist, as

constitutional officers and

citizens, must honor and

support the implementation

of this concept every day,

and particularly during a

presidential transition.

n

Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA Retiree VP.

Contact:

boyatt@afsa.org

| (202) 338-4045

RETIREE VP VOICE

| BY TOM BOYATT AFSA NEWS

her visit, her students would

never have realized that

someone like them—a regu-

lar kid from South Jersey—

could grow up to become a

diplomat.

While most of the attend-

ees were from the Wash-

ington, D.C., area, it goes

without saying that AFSA is

similarly grateful to all of our

members across the country

who have engaged in out-

reach in their communities.

The AFSA Governing

Board made a conscious

choice to place a significant

emphasis on public out-

reach during its term, and

without the many members

who share our belief in the

importance of that mission,

it would not have been as

successful or wide-ranging

as it has been in 2016.

To learn more about

how to become involved in

AFSA outreach, please email

speakers@afsa.org

or visit

www.afsa.org/speakers.

n

Outreach Event

Continued from page 48