Letters

Letters 11-28-2016

Trump should avoid self-dealing President-elect Donald Trump plans to turn over running of The Trump Organization to his children, who are also involved in the transition and will probably be informal advisers during his administration. This is not a “blind trust.” In this scenario Trump and family could make decisions based on what’s best for them rather than what’s best for the country...

Trump the change we need?  I have had a couple of weeks to digest the results of this election and reflect. There is no way the selection of Trump as POTUS could ever come close to being normal. It is not normal to have a president-elect settle a fraud case for millions a couple of months before the inauguration. It is not normal to have racists considered for cabinet posts. It is not normal for a president-elect tweet outrageous comments on his Twitter feed to respond to supposed insults at all hours of the early morning...

Health care system should benefit all It is no secret that the health insurance situation in our country is controversial. Some say the Affordable Care Act is “the most terrible thing that has happened to our country in years”; others are thrilled that, “for the first time in years I can get and afford health insurance.” Those who have not been closely involved in the medical field cannot be expected to understand how precarious the previous medical insurance structure was...

Christmas tradition needs change The Christmas light we need most is the divine, and to receive it we do not need electricity, probably only prayers and good deeds. But not everyone has this understanding, as we see in the energy waste that follows with the Christmas decorations...

CORRECTIONS & CLARIFICATIONS 

A story in last week’s edition about parasailing businesses on East Grand Traverse Bay mistakenly described Grand Traverse Parasail as a business that is affiliated with the ParkShore Resort. It operates from a beach club two doors down from the resort. The story also should have noted that prior to the filing of a civil lawsuit in federal court by Saburi Boyer and Traverse Bay Parasail against Bryan Punturo and the ParkShore Resort, a similar lawsuit was dismissed from 13th Circuit Court in Traverse City upon a motion from the defendant’s attorney. Express regrets the error and omission.

A story in last week’s edition about The Fillmore restaurant in Manistee misstated Jacob Slonecki’s job at Arcadia Bluffs Golf Course. He was a cook. Express regrets the error.

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · Taking the pledge
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Taking the pledge

Stephen Tuttle - July 25th, 2011
Taking the Pledge
Republicans, especially presidential candidates, are on the verge of being
inundated with pledges. Not to the Constitution or their constituents
because that would actually make some sense. No, they are now expected to
sign on to a number of special interest group pledges. Failure to do so
could result in a candidate being shunned by the very voters he or she
most needs.
There is a certain irony in all of this. Our Constitution includes the
specific language of the president’s oath of office but not for members of
Congress. It only requires that our Senators and Representatives “...
shall be bound by oath or affirmation...” to defend and protect that
remarkable document.
In 1789, Congress came up with a pretty good little oath; clean, simple
and straightforward: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support
the Constitution of the United States.”
Alas, those 14 words lasted only about 75 years. After the Civil War a
new oath was conjured up, allegedly to protect us from those pesky
southerners and their traitorous northern brethren. And, of course, the
ubiquitous “so help me God” was added.
We now have plenty of oaths and pledges and none of them are especially
brief or elegant. The target for all of them seems to be Republicans who,
apparently, cannot be trusted unless they’ve signed some kind of pledge.
Special interest groups have always demanded a certain amount of loyalty
in exchange for their support. Nothing surprising or untoward about that.
But 2012 Republican presidential candidates are faced with more litmus
tests than a 6th grade science class.
For starters, there is the No New Taxes pledge of Grover Norquist and his
Americans for Tax Reform. This one is so old – it was first offered in
1986 – it’s practically an historical document in political terms. It
actually is simple; no new taxes, period.
So far, more than 230 Republican members of the House and 40 members of
the Senate have signed Norquist’s pledge. They aren’t raising taxes or
voting for any new taxes no matter what. It does sort of limit they way
in which they deal with the current budget mess and eliminates their
ability to become involved in any kind of rational budget discussions but,
hey, they signed a pledge.
As you would expect, there is also a Pro-Life Presidential Leadership
pledge. It is exactly what you’d guess; a promise to oppose abortions
under almost any circumstance and work to overturn Roe v. Wade. We’ve
heard both sides of this argument so many times over so many years we can
recite the entire debate by rote.
A new player in the pledge sweepstakes is something called the Cut, Cap
and Balance pledge. The idea is to cut the budget, create spending caps
that are actually enforceable and support a constitutional amendment that
requires the budget be balanced. The House has now passed cut, cap and
balance legislation but the Senate is incredibly unlikely to follow suit
and the president has already promised a veto in the unlikely event the
bill reaches his desk.
Far and away the most spectacular of the current pledges comes from a
newly minted special interest group in Iowa calling itself The Family
Leader. They’ve concocted a real dandy of a pledge, the “Declaration of
Dependence Upon Marriage and Family”, ostensibly to protect traditional
marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
That would have been simple enough as a standard anti-gay marriage
promise. But the Family Leader pledge contains 14 points. Among other
things, it requires support of “faithful constitutionalist” judges,
opposition to abortion, opposition to pornography, and in a delightful
bit of nonsense, opposition to Sharia law. Of course, there is no
Islamic Sharia law in our justice system, no one has suggested any such
thing, no such thing is even remotely possible but it’s a nice bit of
ugly Muslim-baiting by the conservative evangelicals who created this
abomination.
Most of the time special interest groups have enough common sense to
realize they’ll need to do more than just threaten candidates who don’t
necessarily agree with every single thing they want. They lobby them,
talk to them, reason with them, attempt to persuade them. At least
that used to be the case. Not so much anymore.
Those who now offer up these pledges have a different approach – sign this
pledge or we will destroy you politically. It’s not neighborly or
especially productive.
We understand that Republicans now pledging away their independence must
“appeal to their base”. That means mostly conservative voters, especially
those identifying themselves as evangelicals, who tend to turn out for
primary elections in larger numbers than other Republican voters. Signing
all these pledges proves the candidate is serious about issues important
to those voters.
It also makes it difficult to appeal to Independents, cross-over Democrats
and other general election voters who may not agree with every word of
every pledge. Having pledged themselves into an ideological corner,
there’s no room for escape.
If elected, adherence to the pledges becomes even more nonsensical since
elected officials are supposed to represent all of us, not just those who
agree with their pledge-taking. Governing requires room for
give-and-take, not rigid adherence to the narrow visions of a narrow
segment of the electorate.
A better pledge might be this – I promise to behave like an adult, refrain
from insulting those with whom I don’t agree, tell the truth, try my best
to represent all the people in my district (or state or country), always
understand that I work for my constituents and not the other way around,
and believe the Constitution is a living document I will support, protect
and defend.

 
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