Paul Jacob

…and to the refrigerator for which it stands, one cooling unit, under electric power, indivisible from the side by side freezer, with cold drinks and frozen TV dinners for all.

It seems silly to pledge allegiance either to a refrigerator or its warranty. But, perhaps, no more so than to pledge allegiance to our nation’s flag or our beloved Republic, for which that flag stands.

Wait a second: Doesn’t our Republic deserve our allegiance?

Well, what is meant by “allegiance”? The first dictionary definition reads, “the obligation of a feudal vassal to his liege lord.” My goodness, is that what you intend when you say the Pledge of Allegiance?

In fact, the word “allegiance” derives from feudal times. Even further variations of the definition — “the fidelity owed by a subject or citizen to a sovereign or government” or “the obligation of an alien to the government under which the alien resides” — are tied to a relationship whereby “We, the People” are inferior to our nation-state.

But America is the exception. We’re not “subjects” or “aliens.” We are the sovereigns.

That wonderful frost-free icebox is ours; it works for us. This Republic is also ours. It was designed to work for us.

Some go so far to say that we are the government.

So, do we need to pledge our allegiance to ourselves?

As Judge Andrew Napolitano asked on his Freedom Watch show last week, “Does the government work for us or do we work for the government? Are true patriots guided by symbolism such as flag waving and pledges or by their commitment to personal freedoms?”

Perhaps it doesn’t matter. Most folks reciting the Pledge surely don’t view themselves as feudal serfs.

But words matter, and actions and rituals matter as well. Tomorrow we celebrate Independence Day not simply as a method to get out of work, but as a way to remind ourselves and our children that this country was conceived in liberty, in the hope we can continue to live in freedom. (That’s why I say “Independence Day” rather than the “Fourth of July,” since what happened is much more important than the date it happened.)

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.