Should public officials sign a pledge that limits their options in office?

President Obama seeks a tax hike to help cut the deficit, but 277 members of the U.S. House and Senate have pledged to oppose any tax increase. Today’s Question: Should public officials sign a pledge that limits their options in office?

  • Al

    No! Why would they tie their hands like that? The oath of office already contains the important things they need to promise upon entering office.

  • Hiram


  • Tim

    They do take a pledge when they take the oath of office and are sworn in. To uphold the constitution, serve and protect the United States. Any other pledge that limits office holders from those responsibilties is un-american and might be treasonous and /or impeachable acts.

  • Rich in Duluth


    They are supposed to represent ALL of their constituents, not just the ones who voted for them. Making ideological pledges makes compromise nearly impossible, as has been clearly shown in Minnesota and Washington.

  • david

    Only if they want to look for a new job after the next election. Good bye you obstructionist tea-bagging morons. Don’t let the capitol door hit you on the ass on the way out. You won’t be missed.

  • Laurie

    No, the oath of office is the only pledge they should adhere to, anything other than that should be considered unethical and they should not be allowed to run for office again.

  • Sara
  • Lou

    No they shouldn’t but they will continue doing it until the public shows their disapproval of this practice by making it a campaign issue and defeating some of the candidates that use this tactic . Since most elected officials top priority is to get reelected, they will do or say whatever they believe the public wants to hear and currently making a pledge not to increase taxes is considered to be smart politics. The practice would end if it could be shown to be an ineffective campaign strategy but I do not expect that to happen.

  • Geoff

    No – Doing so limits their options and confuses being committed to a cause with intransigence. Because the world changes, we need to change too. Otherwise, we become irrelevant or selected out. See any business for details. (Many of the people who want no taxes also insist government should be more business-like.)

  • Duane

    I have no problem with them signing a “no tax” pledge when this is the position many of the new congress people and senators ran on. This was also the reason why some 20 state houses, including the Minn State House, switched to the conservative side. We need fiscal discipline and financial responsibility in our state and national government.

  • GaryF

    Read Joe Soucheray in the Pioneer Press today.

    Government is like a dog locked in a room full of food. The dog will continue to eat the food until it dies, it can’t help itself.

    The government we have is unsustainable. Do we want to become Greece? Portugal? Venezuela?

    The beast must be told no.

    It’s never enough spending or never enough revenue. NEVER.

  • Wendy

    No. Pledges are things we do in Junior High. The information that a person has at a point-in-time may be different from what they find out later and the pledge would hinder them from being responsive to their constituents.

  • Duane

    I believe your question is incorrectly stated. The pledge is “no tax” not “limits option”. The term “limited options” presents this question as a bias question, designed to make it appear that signers have no options. Record deficits ahead of the Obama health care will only cause severe financial problems in the near future. Reduce exoenses is the only option.

  • Joe


    Some of these comments are naive. You can not represent ALL of your constituents, you have to make a choice on one side or the other of any particular issue. Also a pledge is meant to hold a rep’s feet to the fire to actually uphold his campaign rhetoric. It seems when GOP candidates win control of a body and then legislate to their party’s principles it’s ‘unamerican’ and ‘treasonous’. However when Senator Reid and Rep. Pelosi did the same on their watch the American people were told “elections have consequences”.

    Be consistent please.

  • uptownZombie

    Duane, their question is meant to be more broad than the single one being referred to in the lead up to the question. Like if another group of reps all pledged to vote no on any legislation until Bigfoot is proven to exist.


    We voted them into office to act like an adult and sometimes make agreements that they don’t like. They are there so that millions of people don’t have to vote on every single issue put before us by one of the other millions of people. If they can’t act like an adult then we will vote them out of office, though sadly not soon enough.

    Signing a pledge is ridiculous, you are guaranteed to have to act against that at some point.

    To our reps: you are not better or smarter than us, you are there to act in our place.

  • Bruce


    What is this the Boy/Girl Scouts?

  • I don’t believe pledges accomplish anything, except to give those who insist on them power. Certainly, candidates should clearly state the guiding principles that will guide their actions; voters should hold them accountable for abandoning those principles. Actual actions, though, have to be driven by circumstances and the situation. Making a blind pledge to do (or not to do) something no matter what the circumstances says “There are problems I will not solve.”

    The financial world is getting to see, first-hand, how inefficient democracy can be at solving urgent problems. Those who want to invoke comparisons to Greece should think about this: if World Markets stumbled when they thought a relatively poor and very unstable country like Greece might default (and they did stumble, for many days), what will be the consequences when they realize that the good faith and credit of the United States can be held hostage to political ideology and a pledge to Grover Norquist?

  • DanA

    No. Such things are short sighted election gimmicks. I would support a pledge stating they will refrain from sexual misconduct, however.

  • Jean

    No, no, a thousand times no! Such pledges by legislators indicate an unwillingness to fully represent all their constituents and to fully study the issues and consider all possible solutions to problems. It also contributes to gridlock and has set up the divisive political atmosphere that exists today.

    In the worst of times, such as we are facing today, it is the worst of strategies! It limits thinking and action by the participants in the pledge, their colleagues in the same party who may be more thoughtful and reflective on the issues, but who must worry about political ramifications, and by opponents of the pledge who are limited in the ideas that they can present and pursue. Can reason and intelligence rise to the top once more–or is our country doomed to fall by our own stupidity?

  • David

    Absolutely not! Any pledge beyond the one made when being sworn-in upon entering office is silly. Governing is complex, and members of any governing body need to be willing to listen, discuss, negotiate, and have some amount of flexibility in dealing with other members of the governing body as well as with their constituency in order to produce thoughtful, meaningful results. Taking these pledges, whatever the point-of-view, indicates an unwillingness to include new and developing information in one’s decision-making.

  • linda

    No, they should not sign a pledge. Unless they have some hidden gift allowing them to see the future how can they say NEVER to anything and serve the state, country? Either that or be able to admit the pledge can be broken and man up and do what is in the best interest of the people they are elected to serve. I am 67 years old; I am involved in politics and have never seen a mess like we are in today.

  • Eric

    Signing ideological pledges flies in the face of the enlightenment and reason our founding fathers employed to form our democratic republic. Religious-like beliefs about taxes and economic theories are destroying our country.

  • Jason

    They should sign a pledge that they will NEVER allow signed pledges to interfere with serious decisions about the public good.

  • Ken

    Definitely not. Taking the hardline one view approach is why we are in the position that we are in.

  • Gayle

    No. They were elected to compromise with all other legislators to get the job done…not what they want to do. AND once elected they have to represent all of their constituents…not just the ones who voted for them.

  • Wolf

    NO! They should read Friedman’s opinion piece in today’s NY times. We need spending cuts AND tax increases on wealthy Americans. They need history lessons to see how income distribution has gotten even more skewed in the past 25 years. They need to get out of office.

  • Finn

    I personally would not vote for any politician who has signed a pledge.

    In addition, as a computer scientist, I would like to make the point that politicians who make pledges, and whose only contribution to policy discussions is to say “no” to anything that is not in their pledge could easily be replaced by a simplistic robot or even a computer program that could be written by a student in an introductory programming class.

    In my view, the reasons we traditionally have had human beings represent us in legislative government is so that they can use their uniquely-human creativity to craft solutions to difficult problems. In the MN shutdown, I noticed that the legislators who signed pledges were in fact simply rejecting every proposal that did not meet their agenda, and they were not crafting alternative solutions. I challenge these legislators to explain why they should not be replaced by a much-less-expensive computer!

  • Mary

    No, no, no. Many politicians’ views are too rigid and extreme in these times — preventing compromise and action, as it is. Why allow lawmakers to put on an extra straitjacket on to further obstruct our government from functioning?

  • Glenn

    As I see it, there is no issue here. No one will summarily enforce the concequence of signing a pledge. The one and only effect the voters have is thier vote. Any verbalization outside of the voting arena is worthless. We, the voters, do not vote every day- as well it should be!!

  • GaryF

    How about signing a pledge to keep abortion legal?

    How about signing a pledge to stay out of war?

    How about signing a pledge to legalize gay marriage?

    How about signing a pledge to never cut education spending?

  • Mary

    Emphatically NO. No pledges other than the oath of office. They should be willing to look at all options that are presented. Narrow-mindedness is what is causing the current impasse. They need to remember that they represent people of BOTH parities – none of them had 100% of the vote in their state.

  • Ken Jackson

    The highest ethical and moral duty flows from the pledge a law maker takes to protect and defend the constitution and as a consequence the health of the nation and well being of the common-good. These outside pledges are little more than PR fluff.

    Any legislator to actually told me he took a vote because of these PR pledges I would consider akin to my grandson who explained that he kicked the dog because the devil made him do it.

    I would seek to keep the dog and grandchild apart until he matures a bit more.

  • Neil C

    It’s up to them. But if I were them:

    (1) I would be very careful whick pledges I signed

    (2) I would treat campaign promises that I make as pledges anyways, so a pledge would be somewhat redundant.

  • Joe

    No they shouldn’t pledge to anything really. Circumstances can change, one can become aware of new statistics, data, or other information that might change a persons view of an issue.

  • Julia Accola

    No. Too many politicians seem to feel bound by their pledges. Their only pledge is their oath of office. Their job is to do their best for the country.

  • Carrie

    No. They should never sign any type of pledge. Look at this stupid Grover Norquist pledge so many Repbulicans signed for no new taxes. Totally makes it hard to compromise. Don’t they remember the box George Bush, Sr. put himself into when he pledged

    “Read my lips. No new taxes.” I say they should forget about the ridiculous pledge and do the right thing. A balanced plan of cuts and revenue increases.

    To hell with Grover Norquist!!!

  • clmahin

    Absolutely not. The Minnesota legislative Republicans who signed pledges not to raise taxes were people who were not really “in” the budget negotiations. A negotiation requires compromise and people who have signed they will “not change” means they will not compromise and that means they are not listening to budget talks, and not moving things forward in the best interest of the state; and the same for our country.

  • greg 62

    ONLY if its a pledge to quit signing pledges. but seriously … signing such pledges is intellectual pork-barreling (iPorkB). You’ve made a promise to deliver “bacon” to your “iPorkB” supporters-constituents and to ignore any and all other constituents needs and rationale. In fact – I think signing a pledge is a form of intellectual bigotry. You’ve made a decision to shun and ignore ideas – surely the sign of a weak mind. The innability to change one’s mind – based on fact, reason, or existing conditions – is too often viewed as a sign of failure. This is why the rigth make “faith” so large a factor in their candidates – because faith requires no facts or reason or acknowledgement of existing situation – it just requires personal ‘Innitiative” er.. faith.

  • suzie

    Their only pledges are to the constitution and the people of this country. Not specificlly to their party bosses. The past and present members of Congress created this mess by spending billions of dollars on unnecessary and sometimes unwanted things and welfare just to basiclly buy the votes they needed to stay in office. Now the bill has come due and they don’t know how to pay it off. So they try and create a PR ploy by signing pledges to say “no more taxes” – but they never sign pledges to say “no more spending” Tax their rich friends, but when have they every risked that.

    Maybe the only pledges they should make is to only serve a max of 12 years and to turn their lavish pensions into social security (which they have stolen from) and have the same helath insurances/benefits the average American has and not to exempt themselves from any laws they pass.

  • Jeff Geske


  • Justin

    Absolutely not. The only pledge a lawmaker should be beholden to is the oath they swear to the constitution (state or U.S.) and the idea that they are representing their constituents. People signing pledges like Grover Norquist’s are most decidedly NOT doing what their constituents elected them to do (at least not all of them).

  • Greg

    People who sign such pledges are announcing to the public that they will no longer fulfill their constitutional duties to their state and their nation, let alone actually represent their constituents.

    In effect it solemnly promises to give keepers of that pledge veto power over every vote that politician takes, thereby making them representative, not of the people who elected them, but only representative of those unelected outsiders who have been granted the right to require unwavering fealty to themselves.

    Signing such an unconstitutional pledge should result in the removal from office, as rapidly as legally possible, of those who have done so, since by signing such a pledge, they have each abrogated their oath of office.

  • KK

    Yes, politicians should sign pledges if they want to sign them. It is an easy way for the rest of us to evaluate who is too nairve to grasp the difficulty of governing in a democracy. It also, in some cases, demonstrates who is unable to anticipate the complexities that may arise from making such a pledge. The public can use these pledges to determine who is fit to hold public office.

  • Politics is the art of compromise. While I certainly understand voter frustration with politicians who don’t follow through on campaign promises, tying the hands of elected officials with “pledges” can have its own negative consequences.

    For example – correcting the flawed means by which inflation is calculated. This was proposed as a means to deal with the debt ceiling, but was rejected by many in the House because adjusting inflation rates might raise taxes. So now America is stuck with an inflation mechanism that is flawed and costing us money. Fixing it would save us money, but alas – someone might break their pledge and cost themselves their job. Never mind if it costs America its AAA rating.

    (Incidentally – there is one GOP candidate who refuses to sign pledges: Jon Huntsman.)

  • Greg

    By the way, “Souch” is wrong about dogs. A dog who has been raised with continuous access to a supply of dry dog food will generally regulate its own food consumption to keep a healthy weight.

    But then I’m not suprised that Joe would base an entire argument on an assumption that he didn’t even bother to research (and which he probably was repeating from some equally factually-challenged, moronic source).

  • Eris

    Yes. No. Maybe. It depends …

  • Diana

    Signing a pledge is foolish. Representatives should be fair and balanced with the ability to listen and study all sides of an issue before coming to a conclusion. To sign a pledge before the facts are presented is like forecasting with a crystal ball. Governing is not a mystical experiment.

  • Peter

    Pledges offer simple answers. Unfortunately, we live in a complex world. As much as people would like to have their leaders tell them that the “fix” to their problems is simple, and the other guy is standing in your way, it is irresponsible, if not abhorrent, for politicians to appeal to these base desires. There is more to life than political job security.

  • Ruth

    No! It limits their ability to adjust to unforeseen events and to compromise.

  • Kirk

    Absolutely not. Never.

    This equates to placing your allegiance to someone, or something else, above your allegiance to your country. It is unthinkable, and wrong.

  • James


    When I vote for a politian, it is because of what they pledged.

    They had better darn well stick to what they pledged.

    SOME compromise is acceptable,, as long as it is in the voters best interest.


  • Kathy Mohn

    No. Elected officials pledge to uphold the constitution and represent all of their constituents as best they can, requiring compromise, dialogue, wrestling with real complex issues. To make a pledge to a non-elected organization, overrides these obligations and is surely unethical and possibly treasonous.

  • Joey

    No. If they want to make their position clear, they could sign a statement to that effect. But pledging to always vote a certain way eliminates the possibility for compromise, without which government cannot function.

  • Deborah

    NO. I didn’t vote for Grover Norquist. Why should he have any influence at all on any MN politician, State or National who are supposed to be working for MN. You can still have your opinions and promises but you are much more likely to have a closed mind to any alternatives despite the situation at hand if you have Pledged Allegiance to someone like Grover Norquist.

  • Lois


  • Lisa

    They can sign pledges not to drink, or not to have extramarital affairs, or not to send compromising photos of themselves to women…they can pledge all manner of things that affect them personally and that only they have control over.

    But when it comes to being legislative leaders I agree that they already made a pledge to do what’s best for the country when they were sworn in, and that means being open to compromise and new ideas. When legislators wear pennies on their lapels and yell “not one more penny for taxes,” or sign a pledge to “uphold family values” as THEY define these values, they come to the table with their minds made up and there’s no room for considering another point of view or for discussion or compromise. That’s not how problems are solved in a relationship or family, or in business or government.

    We can only hope that the American people are paying enough attention to this destructive nonsense and realize what a mistake was made when these divisive, narrow-minded legislators were voted in…and will work to vote them out in 2012.

  • steve

    No. Why limit your options on how to best deal with a situation because of pledge? I don’t think you take a tool out of your bag when trying to address big issues. this is just silly. They are elected to think situationally and take what they know at the time and craft a solution.

  • julie

    No – look where it has gotten us! Such pledges might work if we lived in a black and white world, but ours is full of gray (and getting grayer by the way). In WWII there was a war tax, we should be taxing our citizens to pay for the war (which should end) rather than leaving it to our children to pay, exempting military personnel.

  • Anne

    No. In fact, I will consider a candidate who thinks signing a pledge is necessary to get me to vote for them particularly unfit for elective office. I want to elect an intelligent, reasonable, judicious person to represent me – not an automoton. It’s especially egregious that a candidate would sign a pledge written by individuals or groups outside their constituency.

  • Alice & Ed Cowley

    NO! We believe that pledging their “soul to the company store” (Grover Norquist & cohorts) is the same blind allegiance as the leader of the lemmings jumping off a high cliff and his group blindly following into oblivian. Hitler did the same thing.

    Alice & Ed

  • kennedy

    No they shouldn’t, but they are free to do so.

    I think the most influential politicians are those in the middle. If the senate consists of 45 “red” and 45 “blue”, decisions will be made by the 10 in the middle.

    This assumes the politicians are sincere and will honor the pledge…

  • Ricardo

    NO! Neither should judges make pledges beyond their oath of office.

  • Pete

    No. Look at what the pledges to never-elected Grover Norquist did to this state. It’s like the hyper-milers who turn off their electric cars when they’re on the free-way. They take away the ability to accelerate in order to avoid accidents. Taking away raising taxes as a way to fix problems is irresponsible, because every tax cut and budget cut is essentially permanent.

    Not to mention that the Minnesota Constitution, Article X, Section 1 says “The power of taxation shall never be surrendered, suspended or contracted away.” Everyone politician who signs Grover’s pledge is surrendering their power of taxation to him. And it also borders on malfeasance, since if they don’t do what he tells them, they lose all of their campaign funding and will lose their primary.

  • barracuda

    gary has clearly never spent any appreciable length of time around dogs.

    but as long as we’re making crazy analogies:

    the tea party is like a southern belle trapped under a collapsed gazebo. she screams for help until someone rescues her, but tells everyone else to pull themselves out on their own, like she imagines she did.

    hollow partisan bickering is like a bowl of chicken soup cooling in a tree house. eventually the soup is the same temperature as the tree, and the bowl spins counter clockwise to create a microscopic black hole.

    my lunchbox is like a cat in heat. it keeps losing money at the horse track, and never stops at red lights except on weekends.

  • Don

    The only pledge our US Senators and Representatives should take is allegiance to the USA. Any other pledge puts the good of our country at a lower priority.

  • Kevin VC

    Once someone is in office they need to see with their eyes what is going on, be in office to know what needs to be done, and not be impeded with agreements.

    A pledge is another thing, a promise that is not contractually binding.

    If a politician makes a pledge and fails to follow through then there is something wrong and should be voted out next time.

    It seems these ‘legal’ documents much like Grover has conservative party people sign is directly interfering with good government. And honestly is a policy that is really dishonest to the problems our country faces.

    We need fewer nut jobs running around spewing stupid antics. And Grover is one of them, right up there with the Tea Party in general.

  • Carrie

    Gotta love those crazy analogies! : )

  • stu klipper

    Nien! Nyet!

    Pledge signing politics is the politisc of conviction — a dogmatic obeisance to doctrine.

    It is not governance, it is marching in unyielding lock-step. Its the politics of the Brown Shirts and the SA, it is the politics of politiburos and commisars.

    A lot of things have been castigated as un-American. An uneasy epithet… it applies all too easily to these pledge signers.

    I don’t think the country has see a more odious lot of radicals since The Secession.

  • John

    No. Public officials have an obligation to deal with the circumstance in which they find themselves for benefit of all the American people. Signing a pledge restricts the official’s ability to deal with current circumstance and to sacrifice the common good for the sake of the pledge.

  • KC

    ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! Nothing that subjugates their duties to the governmental unit and constituents they serve. Those in the US Congress, along with Mr. Norquist are guilty obstruction of Congress.

    It’s like some adolescent secret society pledge. What a bunch of misguided little brats.

  • Eeric Phillips

    A Foolish Consistency

    In the early ‘60’s, Barry Goldwater published his “Conscience of a Conservative,” and I was hooked. It made sense that our federal government should be limited to doing only those things which neither the states, nor local government, nor private enterprise could do better, and that it should stay within the boundaries set out by our Constitution. It made sense that our government should intrude into our lives only as much as was absolutely necessary to protect our rights and freedoms as individuals. There will always be legitimate arguments over just what those rights and freedoms really are, and over the extent to which our government needs to spread a safety net to protect the most vulnerable among us. Generally, we have found that we can argue about these respectfully.

    Over the years, the Republican Party has , for the most part, been on the side of those who believe in a smaller, less controlling federal government; and I have, for the most part, voted for Republicans, because that is my view also.

    Over the past four to six years, I have watched apprehensively as more and more members of the Republican Party have become so rigid in their beliefs that they are no longer able to argue rationally for those things in which they believe. Most recently, we have seen a movement to demand that our representatives sign a pledge not to raise any new taxes. As I have mentioned, I personally favor a smaller, less intrusive federal government, so this pledge almost makes sense. There are times, however, when good governance requires that we listen to all points of view, analyze the full ramifications of whatever options are proposed, and seek a solution which is right for the moment. This applies also to pledges not to vote to raise our debt ceiling. A pledge not to raise any new taxes, or never to vote to raise the debt ceiling, taken literally, renders its adherents incapable of exerting the critical analysis we need in these unprecedented economic times. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen, philosophers, and divines.”

    I voted for Michelle Bachman on each of her runs for Congress. I must now, however, warn Michelle and other similar thinking politicians that I fear their blind rigidity more than I fear the “tax and spend” mentality of their opponents. I did not vote for President Obama, because there were many aspects of his world view with which I disagreed. It now appears that he has risen above politics of party, and in statesmanlike fashion, has offered a compromise which he believes encompasses the best ideas of both sides. As a Republican, and as a long-time conservative, I am distressed that it is the rigidity of members of my own party, and their dedication to their “foolish consistency,” that has made this a deal that seems impossible to broker.

  • CF

    Politicians and candidates taking pledges is just the latest political gimmick. Why does is come as a surprise to anyone? You mean to say before the pledges fad politicians were open, honest and who were willing to consider all options? Hardly. The act of voting politicians into office is a mere technicality, whereas once there the lobbyists, big dollar donors and corporations make all the decisions. So I say if they want to make pledges, go ahead. It doesn’t make any difference, they still are all corrupt. Nothing will change until politicians make the one pledge that they are supposed to, (and MEAN IT)!

    “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America….”

  • Anne

    Absolutely not!! Anybody who signs such a pledge is making it clear from the beginning that s/he lacks the flexibility to govern effectively. It’s stupid, narrow-minded, and the current impasse demonstrates how dangerous it is to be less concerned about the country’s concerns than about a pledge to an unelected anti-tax ideologue, Grover Norquist. And some of the newly elected Tea-Party Republicans want to repeat this every six months or so–living constantly on the brink of disaster/default!

  • Mary

    No! It behooves our “leaders” to be open minded in the sense that there is much to learn and they need to be willing to learn as much as possible about all sides of an issue before voting on it. I think much of our government woes are due, at this time, to closed minds and to commitments to ideology rather than practical, realistic facts.

  • Steve the Cynic

    These pledges are essentially promises to not be open-minded, and to never change one’s mind, regardless of new information or changing circumstances. If we elect people who promise such ridiculous things, we have only ourselves to blame for the results.

    That said, maybe a clause should be added to the oaths of office: “…and I hereby renounce any pledge, oath or promise I may have made in the past that would conflict with the duties of this office.” Or maybe, if enough of Grover Norquist’s thralls can simply be persuaded that their oath of office supercedes their no-new-taxes pledge, a compromise can be struck. Or maybe pigs will fly.

  • DrB

    An unreserved NO! I don’t understand how signing any sort of pledge that limits the tools to govern can be simultaneously consistent with one’s oath of office.

    I realize that these faddish “oaths” are trends for the Conservative side of the aisle. I wonder, what would they think of a Liberal who had a similar oath, complete with the intransigence being show in fealty to it, that reflected some of the more left-wing political values? Would people be as willing to accept the supposed legitimacy of an oath to vote against tax cuts for the wealthy? Or to vote against anything that takes away health care for everyone?

    Perhaps if people were willing to look at the extreme on the opposite side of the aisle, these Conservative oaths would not seem so palatable.

  • Lance

    I would support all of them signing a pledge limiting their TERMS in public office.

  • Sue de Nim

    This sounds like a rhetorical question to me.

  • Peter

    No labels is an organization founded by moderate Republicans who no longer have a party. They say:

    The battle is on. Tomorrow morning, No Labels Co-Founder Dave Walker will join Grover Norquist on MSNBC’s Morning Joe at 8AM EDT. In front of the ultimate pledge-maker himself, Walker will call for our leaders to take no pledge but the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Single-issue partisan pledges only serve to tie the hands of our leaders and prevent them from making the right decisions. Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) pledge, which demands that elected officials promise not to raise taxes, is a prime example of the danger pledges pose to our democracy. His pledge is one of the main reasons today’s debt crisis is so dire — Republicans are stripped of the power to compromise without breaking their pledge to ATR.

    Don’t miss the great showdown between common-sense solutions and hyper-partisan pledges. Watch Walker and Norquist, joined by Lawrence O’Donnell and Senator Mark Warner, on Morning Joe at 8AM Eastern Time tomorrow morning on MSNBC. Tune in and be sure to forward this email to five friends, urging them to watch as well.

  • Terry

    Absolutely not! Legislatures, by definition, are deliberative bodies. If a candidate doesn’t want to deliberate, they shouldn’t be qualified to seek the job. Duh.

  • Derrick

    Sure why not, atleast then they will have a reason for not getting anything done.

  • Tom Castonguay

    Yes, if the only goal is to get elected. Painting oneself into a corner is a fine US tradition, but it does not show intielligance or statesmanship. I can think of no occasion where allowing no compromise or flexability has ended well — it certanly went poorly for Hitler in the east with the no retreat mandate.

  • Richard LaBree

    Public officials should absolutely not sign pledges, If they do sign a pledge, it should be to the people of their particular district or state.

    Grover Nordquist’s agenda does not take into consideration Minnesota’s particular and specific problems. Our representitives owe their alligence to Minnesotans and their concerns not a person with a specific agenda at the national level.

    When the campaigning begins next summer, I will be asking as many of the candidates I can contact, “Whose pledge will you sign, Grover Nordquist’s or you constituents here in Minnesota? It’s one or the other. not both ” If it is Nordquist’s pledge, you lose my vote; if it is your pledge to Minnesota’s constituents,and their spcific concerns you may receive my vote.

  • GaryF



  • Owen

    Do all those who so emphatically say, “No.” believe that if a candidate runs on a certain platform and abandons those beliefs after the election that they are OK with that?

    Unless one is voting on the basis of appearance or charisma, it would seem that people would like to see a politician follow through on promises made.

    Not that a pledge should be necessary, though.

  • JP

    Effective governance is NEVER a black and white issue. Situations change and the needs of the people and the government change. Anyone with intelligence understands that they may need to change their views to accommodate new information and needs.

  • Clark

    First consider all politicians are lying liars including obama. Therefore, when they make the pledge, then break the pledge, they are simply maintaining their rating along with used car salesman in the trustworthy department.

    They are all clueless moron’s who have never understood their votes have actual consequences.

  • Jean

    Making promises during a campaign or endorsing party platforms and then finding it right and necessary to step away from those promises is an entirely different thing than Taking A Pledge, a very simplistic pledge, to someone like Grover Norquist and his organization. He is a fanatic demanding BLIND obedience (think back in history to the 1930’s) and no one in his/her right mind would commit to such a thing. I agree wholeheartedly with the second comment registered here; that nothing is so black and white, and that a nation’s needs, information, events,and situations change. Anyone we elect should be adult enough to be open to new information and new realities, to exercise good reason and independent thinking and vote for the best solution available that will most serve the needs of the entire state or nation. No reasonable voter quibbles with that, nor does a reasonable voter try to hold any elected official to a one issue pledge. One issue politics are anathema to people of reason and good will. We need people of reason, moderation and willingness to actually do the work of the people rather than just trying to tear everything apart.

  • PragmaticLibertarian

    Only a fool actually believes a politician’s pledge. Especially when it is obvious that such a stance will have no bearing on any piece of legislation to make it through congress. Think before you believe. A good example is pro-life voters. Ask yourself this. What is the first thing a replublican bargains away when they fight so hard for tax breaks for the rich? Is your belief of human sanctity something to be cast aside at the bargaining table? Pro-lifers need their own party if they actually want anything to be done with abortion laws. This is only one example of many. Think before you believe. Pledges are for fools.

  • Alison

    Pledges may have their have their place on clear issues of moral right or wrong. I am thinking of the civil rights movement, Jim Crow laws, slavery, and the right of women to vote. They have no place in debates that are matters of degree, as is the case in this budget/debt ceiling debate. There is nothing particularly moral or immoral about $X trillion dollars. There’s no reason to risk the long term future of our economy based on an arbitrary line in the sand dollar figure.

  • cfmccann

    No, it is abdicating your responsibility to your constituents.

  • Robin77071

    Under no circumstances should a candidate for office sign any pledge – I would never vote for anyone who signs a pledge. The whole point of having a representative is to have someone there who can respond to the issues in the best interests of his constituancy

  • Kiki F.K Nkulu

    It is their right to sign a pledge but it is not what they have been elected for. What I am seeing is a very hard steering of the republican party far to the far right at a level that jeaopardize the entire nation and our economy.

    Their commitment to not raise taxes, cut spending and reducing the deficit have never been the case when the country wentr on 8 years or more of war in Iraq and Afghanistan under former president Bush.

    They(T party /Republicans) have never saw that as the cause of where we are right now, that they “small government-No regulation” lead the country 3 years ago in a financial crisis for what we still paying the price, that they party did vote for that bail out on the last days of Bush presidency.

    If sgining a pledge is their rights, then even more the rights to do what is best for the country. For those who elected T party members, they have now a clear picture of how damaging, less clever and rational they representatives are.

  • KC

    Sure the politicans can pledge. I have been in this country for 40 years. I learned that if I look up the dictionary for the word “politicans” I will get the definition “modern day liars”. The amazing thing is that the America born Americans still believe the words of politicans. Those of us who are foreign born Americans have slightly clear minds, thank goodness.

    So yes, the politicans can pledge. But does it mean anything. AFterall, it is not like scout’s honor!!

  • Robert