COMMENTARY | Hundreds of members of Congress have pledged loyalty to an interest other than the interests of the U.S. government, the government they were elected to serve. And no one seems to care.
Grover Norquist claims 534 incumbent politicians and challengers signed his anti-tax pledge this year, an increase over the 449 he said signed it in 2010, reports the Wall Street Journal. And now some Republicans say that they no long want to follow it.
Which begs the question: What’s stopping them?
At Norquist’s euphemistically titled “Americans for Tax Reform,” site, there are links to the pledge for members of the House and the Senate. There’s even a list of FAQs, explaining that once someone has signed the pledge, it is signed for the duration of their tenure in office.
What I cannot seem to find, intrepid though I might be, is any written explanation of what consequences a member of Congress can expect if he suddenly decides that his obligation to the American people is greater than his obligation to Grover Norquist. Surely there must be consequences, right? Why else would our elected officials feel “hamstrung” — as reported by the New York Times — by the pledge?
If it’s merely that they’re afraid that no longer following what appears to be a non-legally binding piece of paper might tarnish the value of their “word,” I have some news for the folks at Capitol Hill. You know, about the value of your word.
It’s clear that the government needs to raise revenue, and the least painful way to do so for most Americans is to have the wealthy, who pay historically low tax rates, to shoulder a more realistic share of the burden. That Republicans have signed this pledge putting their promise to Norquist above their duty to their constituents, seems, at best, ridiculous, and at worst, possibly treasonous.
But worry not, Norquist-pledge signers. I have a solution for you. I offer you the following Rescission of the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge:
I, _______, the undersigned, as a member of Congress, hereby reaffirm my allegiance to the best interests of my constituents and the United States Constitution, and in doing so, RESCIND my former pledge to the “Americans for Tax Reform.”
Sign it. Date it. Have a witness sign it and date it. Easy-peasy.
Unless, of course, the “pledge” is an excuse to keep from doing what you know is the right thing to do. Unless you swear a higher allegiance to Grover Norquist than you do our nation or the people who put you in office.
If there are no consequences, then what is the harm of rescinding your pledge? And if there are “consequences,” then we need to get to the bottom of who is promising what and threatening what to gain improper control over our government.
In the post-Republican-spanking that was the 2012 election, it’s time to really consider what you’re there to do, Congress, because it’s clear that voters will remind you, and keep reminding you until you get it.
I challenge the signers of the Norquist “oath” to rescind your tax pledge and start serving America, not Norquist.