Representatives Must Pledge to Represent the People
I get in trouble a lot when the discussion at home turns to politics and government. My wife is a pretty well-informed member of the voting public and I have been a current events and politics nut for going on 35 years. The typical discussion follows an agonizingly consistent pattern: She expresses her anger and all the reasons something should or should not happen, all based on what seems right, logical, or best for the country. Then so often comes the part where I tell her that all of “that” makes no difference because the decisions made by government are mostly based on politics, not reason or common sense. In America, the people argue the issues from right and wrong, patriotic vs. unpatriotic, fair to all vs. favoritism, payer vs. taker, citizen vs. non-citizen, free vs. unfree, etc.
The political class, however, regards this as naive and unsophisticated, the blathering of those who “don’t know how things really work.” To them it is the power game, both at the office-holding level and in the competition for position among themselves, which is the reality. Lying, strong-armed tactics, pork barrel bribery, midnight spending, personal privileges, and backroom corruption are all part of the game, and they admire those who do these things well. Within their ranks, it is most acceptable to act in a manner befitting a political aristocracy and to convey upon oneself the merit to belong in it. The rare politician who is driven by principle, and the one who really means the ethical statements he or she makes, is considered “a problem” to the leaders of their own party and a sop to the members of the other. So too the politician endeavoring to represent the wishes of his or her district against the directives of the party leadership.
In times past, a certain amount of moral corruption was considered acceptable if the politician got the big things right. Today, however, there is no longer any middle ground. The break between the political class and the citizenry in general became a chasm when politicians rigged the game so that incumbency was an almost complete guarantee of reelection. The divide was cut deeper when the major news media decided to view themselves players in the game rather than referees.
The people have never been more angry and afraid; nor has the federal government been more intent on doing whatever it takes to force their power over us at every level. Therein lies the question that will determine the direction America will take in the next ten years: who will win?
This isn’t about party anymore; it is about the continuance of representative government, for the people themselves have become the most underrepresented group in this country. That Democrats place party loyalty above all else is not new, just more blatant. There may have been a time to look to the Republican Party to protect the individual from the power of overwhelming government, but the best one can say now is that they are less bad than the Democrats. The best weapon the people have is the vote, but the ACORNs of the world are even corrupting that -- Democrats using the people’s own money against them. Faced with a growing sense of powerlessness, the term “revolution” has moved up the charts. Once uttered only by the kook fringe, it is now becoming an accepted term for the seemingly inevitable clash between the government and the people. Not a violent revolution, although gun and ammunition sales certainly show that isn’t considered beyond possibility, but some form of voter revolt.
Two of the leading voices on the right differ on the correct path in the voter strategy debate. Rush Limbaugh has clearly made the case that a third party only ensures more Democrats, therefore more loss of freedom. His case is certainly convincing. Glenn Beck has taken the position that to vote for Republicans as a way to reverse the current trend is only to keep making the same mistake over and over again because they have not protected or represented us as they told us they would. Here, again, the argument is a very good one and hard to refute based on recent history.
Rather than party, the focus ought to be on the individual. Is a Dick Durbin any more representative of his constituents than Olympia Snowe? Not really; we lose freedom with both, just at different rates. The recent influence of the so-called Blue Dog Democrats illustrates the power of having a few members of Congress who actually take the oath to represent their voters seriously, even if their motivation is self-preservation. Whatever the ideology, what is needed now is serious return to the representation of the people’s will and an abandoning of the ideology/party power rule that has taken over the government and so threatens us today.
To this end I offer a simple pledge to be taken by all candidates up for election:
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Pledge of Representation
I hereby commit myself, if elected, to execute the duties and responsibilities of the office as your representative according to the following principles:
- The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and the duties it conveys and limits to government it sets forth are to be followed. If there is a need to change the Constitution, then the process set forth in the document itself should be followed.
- I will represent the interests of my constituency and that of Americans as a whole first, above the interests of any other organizations, including corporations, special interests, trade groups, unions, or advocacy groups that seek to promote narrow agendas or legislation.
- America is a country based on freedom and the rights of the individual. It will be my responsibility to protect those freedoms and I will put the consideration of individual liberty before any other in evaluating issues before me. I will not favor the benefit of one group over another in evaluating legislation -- equal before the law means equal before the law.
- America is and has been the leader of the free world and it is right and just to aggressively defend her against any threats to her security and to the safety of her citizens.
If my constituents determine that I have not followed these principles to the best of my ability, then they would be justified in voting me out of office at the end of my term.
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The pledge does not require a liberal or conservative ideology, only a promise to represent the people over the interests of party or Washington interest groups. It is a return to the principles of representative government, our founding principles. Voters should insist that any candidate, incumbent or challenger, sign the pledge and work against them if they refuse. Any candidate, Democrat or Republican, not signing is refusing up front to uphold the Constitution and to protect our freedom, equality, and security. They are declaring they will not uphold the oath of office they would be taking if they are chosen. Conversely, any politician, Democrat or Republican, fairly judged by their voters to have not honored their pledge deserves to lose their office. It is a standard that either party should embrace and agree to be held to.
The problem is not in the representative system of government; rather it is in the perversion of the government by the current people in office.
They need to go. Now.