While there are at least two major pledges that candidates are signing these days, I don’t really want to discuss the details of either. I would like to discuss the more general nature of this trend.
My view is that I want to elect someone who will make decisions that are in the best interests of his constituents and the country based on the information available at any given time. I would like to know general philosophy on issues. I’d like to know how they think they should weigh things when they are sure something is best for the country but their constituents won’t like it or even will be hurt by it. I don’t want people in office who have a promise made at some point in the past hanging over them. Life, the world, the economy, etc. are constantly changing and constantly interacting.
My state had a candidate for governor a few years ago who stated that he wouldn’t raise taxes without putting it to a vote in a general election. I heard “I don’t want to make the tough decisions”.
At the same time, if you do vote against my interests, you need to be able to clearly articulate why!
Not sure if that’s idealistic (behaviour expectation) or realistic (understanding the problems).
Pledges are all rage right now. They are useless tools designed to appease the base. They will go away after a few people get hammered over the language in the pledge that they did not bother to read before signing.
The pledge Bachmann and Santorum signed did its job in that it signaled to voters their opposition to gay marriage. They’ll rationalize away the part that strongly implied black children were better off under slavery. And I doubt any candidate would feel that they’re in any way binding; candidates promise lots of things during a campaign.
The primary purpose of the pledges is to dramatically advertise a candidate’s position on some issue.
I agree with the OP’s interpretation of pledges. There’s nothing wrong with making a candidate put his or her position in writing, but once you create a disincentive for politicians to change their minds even if there is a good reason, you’re asking for trouble.
Yeah, I actually think Grover Norquist’s pledge is what’s preventing the debt ceiling/debt reduction talks from being fruitful. He’ll crucify anyone that goes against it, which is almost all Republicans in Congress.
Even the best promise made today might be a bad promise when situations change.
These pledges along with the broadbrush label of “flip flopping”, makes it difficult for our political leaders to learn and adapt.
So the question is not whether you want someone to be bound by a good promise but whether you want someone to be bound by a promise made during a completely different set of circumstances. That is, my marriage vows were a good faith promise but if she starts putting rat poison in the stew, I reserve the right to reconsider.
I want officials who are unwilling to do certain things, no matter what. For example, I want officials who are committed to ensuring that criminal suspects get fair trials and their rights upheld, regardless of the political context–no torture, no secret detention or rendition, no falsification of evidence, no railroading.
Unfortunately nobody is signing any pledges to refrain from that kind of thing.