The Pledge - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Pledge

Last night, reporters got their hands on copies of the “Pledge to America” — the GOP’s remake of the 1994 Contract with America for this year’s elections. Jon Ward has a good overview of what’s in the Pledge, as well as the text of the document itself, at the Daily Caller.

Regarding the Pledge, the editors of National Review write:

The inevitable question will be: Is the pledge as bold as the Contract?

The answer is: The pledge is bolder. The Contract with America merely promised to hold votes on popular bills that had been bottled up during decades of Democratic control of the House. The pledge commits Republicans to working toward a broad conservative agenda that, if implemented, would make the federal government significantly smaller, Congress more accountable, and America more prosperous.

In other words, the Pledge isn’t merely a propose to enact legislation, it is also a bold description of a right-wing ideal. Of course the key words are if implemented.

In his article for the September issue of the Spectator, Grover Norquist described one of the key merits of the Contract with America:

[Rep. Dick] Armey, with his chief of staff Kerry Knott and press secretary Ed Gillespie, took the lead in creating the Contract, first compiling the list of issues and then assigning the hard work of putting pleasant-sounding ideas into real world legislative language. The resulting 10 legislative proposals, such as welfare reform and cutting the capital gains tax, totaled 140 pages of legislative text…

RNC chairman Haley Barbour, now the governor of Mississippi, strongly supported the Contract, devoting an office at RNC headquarters to promoting it and paying for the $700,000 full page ad in the TV Guide, the largest circulation magazine at the time. The ad was perforated and urged voters to tear it out and “keep this page to hold us accountable.” It had little boxes to check off as each part of the Contract was voted on. The bottom line read, “If we break this contract, throw us out. We mean it.”

The Contract promised that if they won a majority in the House, Republicans would hold up-or-down votes on its 10 items within 100 days…

Norquist explained that the reason the Contract was so narrow, limited to specific pieces of legislation, was that it was “a governing document, not a campaign tool.”

The Pledge, in contrast, has no specifics about necessary legislation but instead, as the NR editors point out, plenty of rhetoric on the direction of the country, as well as, in Jon Ward’s words, a Tea Party-style “full-throated endorsement of conservative grassroots populism, casting Washington elites as the problem and the Constitution as the solution.”

Sounds like a campaign tool, not a governing document.

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