Well, folks, we’ve got the politicians’ promises in writing: the Pledge to America.
You can read the full text here, courtesy of CBS News.
I haven’t finished it, but I have to admit that, unlike some bloggers who found it tepid, I liked what I have read, right from the first line: “America is more than a country. America is an idea. …”
The Pledge takes note of our current situation (our feelings of a loss of freedom, the economy is in the tank, and we don’t think our elected officials listen to us) and then offers the kind of traditional right of center solutions that, once in power, Republicans often forget. Here’s what the Pledge really says to me: Now that they’ve put it on paper, we must make sure they do it.
The Pledge is, as several commentators have noted, more a governing document than a campaign pitch (and it’s up to “us the people”-I go mad when people don’t get the case right and use “we the people” in the accusative or dative-but, hey, that’s just me-to make sure they govern this way).
Several commentaries have made just this point. Calling it “a beginner’s pledge,” Rich Lowry says:
The most important word of the election is simple and pungent in any language: “no,” “nyet,” “non,” “nein,” “nei,” “nej.” Voters wanted someone to say it to Pres. Barack Obama, and Republicans did. Everything else is a footnote.
The ultimate import of the Pledge is as a preemptive act of governing. If the chants of “Speaker Boehner” outside the event announcing the document were premature, they weren’t far-fetched. The Pledge will provide a sheet anchor for Republicans should they take power in a vertiginous sweep, and does voters the civic favor of giving them a preview, in some specificity, of the party’s initial priorities.
The Wall Street Journal makes a similar point:
Republicans understand that above all this year voters want to stop the Obama-Pelosi agenda. Stop it cold. Stop the spending, the tax increases and the huge expansion of the regulatory state.
The GOP pledges to do all of those, and this alone would have a salutary economic impact. At the very least, a Republican majority in the House or Senate would mean a healthy gridlock that stops the Pelosi liberals from doing more harm. This would remove several looming threats to business investment and hiring, and thus reduce the uncertainty that has led to the current capital strike and high unemployment rate.
The document also shows that Republicans have been chastened (somewhat) on federal spending from their previous Tom DeLay-led majority days. They promise to “roll back spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels,” which they claim would save at least $100 billion in the first year.
The big disappointment was that the Pledge wasn’t tougher on earmarks. As somebody who grew up in a farming county, I’d be rich if I had a dollar for every time somebody explained to me that farm subsidies are essential to keep our region going. Farm subsidies aren’t earmarks, but they do show how delightful government money becomes when you are the recipient. This has to change.
All in all, however, what I have read of the Pledge looks good. I’ll have it read by Monday, I promise. But here’s the deal: Supporters of small government must say to signatories of the Pledge: Show us you mean it.