No Grover, I will not bow at your Altar

How many political pledges are special interest groups asking our politicians to sign in order to get their support now?

The king is Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, requiring signers to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses.” “Read my lips, no new taxes” probably elected Clinton.

Of course, we have the Leadership Pledge, which requires signers to “actively oppose, and vote against, any measures which grant amnesty – or empower others to grant amnesty – to the millions of illegal aliens residing in the United States.” Ronnie Reagan blew this.

Then there is the Susan B. Anthony List, an attempt to kill Planned Parenthood and eliminate all abortion, the “pro-marriage pledge,” the “Cut, Cap and Balance pledge,” the  the kill Obama-Care pledge, the pledge to enact a balanced budget amendment. And on and on.

All this arises out of a general distrust of elected officials, in an attempt to make them somehow more accountable than they otherwise are.

Our politicians and our politics are so divided along value and religious lines that any subtlety is ridiculed and attacked.  Politicians cannot, as Clinton did, personally oppose abortion and yet believe government has no right to stick its nose into an area reserved for a woman, her doctor and her God.

Our country is an idea – the idea that all are created equal and all have the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  This idea was given the weight of law in the single greatest compromise in the history of our country, our Constitution. When our founding fathers signed the Constitution, I doubt any one of them really liked the whole thing.  It was so contentious a deal that the exclusion of the Bill of Rights from the main document and the retention of slavery almost killed it. I wonder what would have happened had Ben Franklin been told he had to sign an oath to behave himself prior to participation in the convention? Would he have signed any pledge requiring any change or reigning-in of his actions or character? Isn’t that one of the things we love about him?

I love the book “Catch-22.” At one point in it, Captain Black tries to get revenge on Major Major by initiating the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade, during which he forces all the men to swear elaborate oaths of loyalty before being allowed  receive meals, flight equipment, and so on. He then refuses to let Major Major sign a loyalty oath and hopes, thereby, to make him appear disloyal.

I want politicians who can think and act, and who are willing to cross party lines and defy the public opinion of their constituents and do what they feel is right and be willing to suffer severe criticism and losses in popularity because of their actions.  Kennedy profiled eight senators who did so in his book, the last of which was Robert A. Taft, a Republican who criticized the Nuremberg Trials because he felt they prosecuted war criminals under what he considered ex-post facto laws. I want politicians who who do not bow at the altar of pledges, who have the internal strength to do what is right instead of what the majority, in the heat of the moment, wants right now.

Where are they? Where is the Adams who defended the British in the Boston Massacre? What would his political future look like today?

Where is the Major —— de Coverley who puts an end to the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade by hollering “Gimme eat!” in the mess hall without signing an oath? Him, I would vote for – regardless of party.

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