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Pledges disable democracy

The following is an editorial from the Mankato Free Press.

Leading political figures who claim to be answering only to God and country have taken to pledging their political and ethical lives away to special interests recently, and repeatedly.

A fringe Iowa religious group has challenged presidential candidates who hope to win favor in the “state that grows” to commit to ideas in an anti-gay marriage, 14-point pledge that also calls for signers to reject some forms of Islam,  and accept “recognition” that married couples are better parents than single parents.

Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann and Pennsylvania’s Rick Santorum have signed the pledge. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he would not sign it, calling it “inappropriate.” Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty also said he will not sign it.

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who describes himself as libertarian, called it “offensive,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

While one can have a point of view on these subjects, signing a pledge of this kind only cripples representative democracy. Regular voters do not seem to require these pledges, so why should political leaders listen to narrow interest groups?

The answer, unfortunately, is that the special interest groups have political power in popularity contests known as the Iowa caucuses.

These kind of pledges and others, like committing to never raise taxes, box candidates into a corner. Why should voters even bother if a candidate has already committed to a position in advance of evidence and facts and arguments? They’ve committed to agree to an idea no matter how much evidence mounts against it in years to come.

Authors of the most famous pledge, the “Pledge of Allegiance,” would be turning in their graves over such use of pledges in a democracy.

Those who sign pledges should read the real one every once in a while.

Yes, we can “pledge allegiance to the flag and the United States of America.” That doesn’t mean pledge allegiance to a flag the represents narrow political, special interests, but one that represents the melting pot known as America. The flag represents each and every state.

Pledging to the United States of America doesn’t mean pledging to only those who represent the majority at any one time. It means the United States of America. All inclusive. Period.

And pledging to “One nation” means “one nation,” not the nation controlled by Republicans nor the nation controlled by Democrats or special interests.

Pledging to a nation “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” is not difficult to interpret. Liberty and justice for all is the key phrase here. All is the key word. These political pledges seem to be dividing us not uniting us.

Wouldn’t it be great if someone asked politicians to sign the real Pledge of Allegiance?

This editorial appeared July 14 in the Mankato Free Press. It is reprinted with permission.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 07/15/2011 - 09:31 am.

    Great editorial. Proof again that some of the best journalism in this state is NOT taking place in the Twin Cities.

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