I don’t have any issue with the idea of a pledge of allegiance, and I do pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands. The problem is the republic we have and the republic for which it stands aren’t necessarily one and the same. Furthermore, there are some serious issues with terminology in the pledge, issues that strike at the core differences and changes fought for and/or effected in the war.
Firstly, we are not one nation under God. Not that I have any trouble with a reference to God. Far from it! Rather, it is to the solidarity intended by the expression one nation. It’s simply not so. We are NOT now, nor have we ever been, ONE nation. We are instead a group of States (nations each in their own right) compacted together by the Constitution and acting in union through the agency of the federal government in specific and enumerated areas for the benefit of all States in union. In those areas were we are united we act as one unit, but we are not in fact one nation. This is to give the states the protection and benefit unity provides without diminishing or denying their sovereignty. We are a union of nations, the several states themselves. While I prefer the historic reference to “these united States” I can abide references to “the united states” and “the United States of America”. However, if as the pledge asserts and prevailing sentiment has sought to institutionalize and indoctrinate, we are “one nation under God” then we are not the United States, but the United STATE of America instead.
Politically speaking a nation and state are effectively one and the same. So we are actually 50 united nations (or states) of America. Otherwise the states are not sovereign, do not truly retain any non-delegated powers, only exercise any authority at the discretion of the central government, and cannot recall those powers delegated when they deem it necessary. Never mind that the 10th amendment would then be made nonsensical and ineffective. If we were one nation then the states would effectively be reduced to the equivalent of national provinces, parishes, or counties.
Secondly, we are NOT indivisible. It might do well here to consider that the pledge was not written until 1892, well after the end of the war and perhaps during a time when the “nationalism” resulting from Lincoln’s recasting the Union as indissoluble was waning. It was written by a Christian socialist, no doubt a sincere and devout man, who embraced the revisionist consolidation of the states into a single nation. Not only was he an idealist, he was a man trying to earn his pay. The pledge was used in conjunction with what would become the Chicago world fair to help promote His company’s plan to sell a flag to every school, and to have school children everywhere performing a simple, regular, ceremony which included reciting the mantra we now know as the pledge of allegiance. Effectively children would be brainwashed into accepting the ideology of American nationalism and indivisibility that Lincoln invented. It worked too.
However, it simply was not, and is not, true. It is revisionist history, a forced ideology that lays over and obscures the obvious and plain meaning or intent of the founders themselves. The right to freedom, secession, and protection of their sovereignty was paramount in their minds to the point of almost foiling the adoption of the Constitution in the first place. It was assumed no language specifying the right to secession and of the immutable sovereignty of the states would be needed, being understood. However, men like Patrick Henry, that great lover of liberty, protested lest future generations should take the compact (aka the constitution) out of context and use it as a pretext for tyranny. Hence, from such reluctance, was born the Bill of Rights — meant to clarify and prevent federal abuse.
Yes, I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States in that it is meant to represent the republic given us by the founders via the Constitution. However, I’m not sure the American flag has the greater claim to that honor, though I accept it as such. I’d argue the flags of the Confederacy better serve that purpose than the “stars and stripes”. Whatever the flag, it is what it represents (or is intended to represent) that is really important. That is why I do not mind pledging allegiance to the republic for which it stands. And it also why I take umbrage with the notion that we should pledge allegiance to the reinterpretation of that republic as a single and indivisible nation.