Since I first heard about him, Grover Nordquist has irritated me. Mr. Nordquist, in case you don’t know it, is the man behind the Republican rigidity behind “NO NEW TAXES!”. He’s a rich man who supported — and gave a lot, I understand — to candidates that would sign his pledge to not raise taxes.
My problems with him and his pledge are many. 1) To pledge anything to him as an individual means he’s more important than me, or you,or anyone else. 2) He’s not the Constitution. If I remember correctly, people in Congress take a pledge to support the Constitution of the United States. That means that, when doing their job, politicians have to choose between allegiances. As Jesus said, “no one can serve two masters”. 3) Politicians seem to be more worried for the last few years about offending Nordquist than offending the Constitution. I don’t think I heard anyone on the Sunday morning talk shows say (at least for the last few years) that they worried about say, the national defense, if it meant breaking their pledge to Nordquist to not raise new taxes. Bless Lindsay Graham for taking his job seriously again. 3) The rigidity of this pledge and its adherents has caused the gridlock that we’ve seen for what seems like forever now. I get that people have positions and rules, beliefs, values, etc., but in a democracy people have to wrestle with ideas and, in the end, compromise on occasion. You’d think, from the way politicians acted, that “No new taxes” or even “no return to old ones” was in the Commandments from Sinai. It’s not.
So, aside from saying his pledge is totally anti-democracy, I won’t disparage Mr. Norquist’s freedom of speech any further.
Instead, I’ll offer my own pledge to politicians. Here it is:
I promise to: 1) Start with the idea that all human beings are important and have basic needs before I vote on a budget. 2) Wrestle with my conscience and my colleagues and my constituents before passing any law. 3) Take my pledge to support the Constitution of the United States seriously. Realize that it takes precedence over any pledge to the any organization, lobbyist, PAC, SuperPAC, agency, party, group or individual. 4) Work for the good of my country and its people rather than myself or any of the above.
What will you get if you take the Madsen-Bibeau pledge? Not money. Though I’ll certainly pay my taxes, I don’t have a whole lot after that and general living. Will you get my vote? Maybe, maybe not. But you will certainly get my consideration for a vote. You do your job and I’ll do mine re: democracy. Win or lose, though, any politician who signs my pledge will earn the right to look at themselves in the mirror and feel proud. I promise.