Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tea Party Pledges

I've been meaning to make this post for a little bit, kinda as a public service (for the infinitesimal subsection of the public who will read it, I guess). The basic idea is that since no single person is going to fix our government, and creating a new political party which embodies the libertarian ideals of the Tea Party movement is probably counter-productive in our political system, what would probably be the most effective is trying to support candidates who ascribe to certain ideals which match those of the Tea Party, and/or would likely lead to fixes in the government if upheld.

Of course, everyone has their own opinions of what those pledges/ideals should be; some are short-term reactionary to current events, some are fringe, some are good, and some are not obvious, and there are many others. The fringe ones are the most dangerous, of course, since they divide the movement and weaken the effect of promoting change. However, the short-term reactionary and small-scale pledges are also sub-optimal, since they will need to be changed regularly, and don't represent the sort of fundamental clean-up which government needs. So, in that context, I'll propose what I would like to see as pledges from "Tea Party" candidates, in hopes that some/all of them might somehow get adopted by at least part of the movement, and have the desired beneficial effect on the government, and by extension the country. I'll also include the rationale for each pledge, for clarification and explanation, as well as indication of desired effect.

Pledge #1: I believe that government exists to fulfill its necessary roles, and that expanding its size and roles is dangerous for the people. I will work to support limiting the size and power of government, and improving transparency in its operations wherever possible.

Rationale: This is sorta the setup clause, if you will, as well as an ideological differentiator. Nothing particularly concrete here, but a good overall statement towards the sentiment of the movement. There are many benefits to small government for the people (detailed elsewhere), which I don't feel the need to repeat here.

Pledge #2: I will vote against any bill which contains any provision which I do not feel benefits the American people on the whole, regardless of the value of the bill as a whole. I will also vote against any bill I have not read in its entirety, or do not entirely understand.

Rationale: This is the first "meat" pledge, and is meant to create a legislative stand against payoffs, bribes, earmarks, and all other forms of incentives and "horse trading" which has created to much bad legislation. If something is important enough for Congress to pass, it should be separable into small enough bills such that you can achieve a majority vote on merit, without any bribes or handouts. Admittedly this would be a large change to the way Congress does business, but one which I think would have dramatic benefits in the long run, both in less government, and less bad laws.

Pledge #3: I support the 10th Amendment, will oppose any actions which clearly violate it, and will support actions which correct previous actions which violated it.

Rationale: Another "small government" pledge, this one about the federal government overstepping its authority. Nothing too onerous here, but another good ideal for candidates to have.

Pledge #4: I understand and accept that the government cannot limit its spending by itself, and unbounded spending leads the country to financial ruin. Therefore, I promise to:
1. Work to limit the governments income from taxation (in all forms) to at, or preferably below, current levels
2. Work to prevent the government from devaluing its currency to create more income (by "printing" money)
3. Work to improve accuracy and transparency in all government accounting, particularly in areas where the government is currently intentionally distorting statistics
For all these, I will support actions which makes these changes and limits as incontrovertible as possible by the government in the future.

Rational: This is a biggie, and covers a lot of things, all related to keeping the country financially solvent long-term. The tax limit I envision would be a hard-cap on total taxes as a percentage of income, but the pledge is general enough to allow other options. Item #2 is largely tied into the Fed; elimination would be the best option, but there are others, and the pledge leaves it open. #3 is related to distortions in the CPI and other statistics, which have wide-range distorting effects, and need to be stamped out. Of course, the best place for these changes would be in the Constitution, where they cannot be controverted and abused again in the future, but the pledge leaves it open for incremental and/or sub-optimal methods of trying to fix the problems.

Pledge #5: I support freedom of religion in the US. I understand that in order to keep that freedom for everyone, we must preserve the separation of church and state, and keep religion of any kind out of government. As such, I promise that my personal religion, if any, to the best of my ability, will not be a factor in any decision I make while in public service, nor cited in reference to such, nor made any more visible during my time in public service other than what observation requirements I might have. If I think I will be unable to make decisions without the influence of my religion, I promise not to pursue or accept public office, for the benefit of the country.

Rationale: It's become obvious that religion has no place in our government, and trying to put it there is asking for trouble and conflict. It's time the country really started practicing what was first envisioned as just protection from different religions, and now should be protection from all religious bias. It's fine to have morals (obviously), and fine to be religious, but these have no place in public service, for the good of the country.

Anyway, those are the pledges I would want from candidates (first pass); comments are welcome, as are forwards/quotations. I guess I too had a dream today...

1 comment:

  1. My only question is why these pledges would single out only certain parts of the Constitution. It seems to me the problem you want to address is people interpreting the whole Constitution too widely. It's not that they're following it except for a few parts.

    I always comment that I would like to see a moderate movement to reduce the size of government. Many people who say they want to reduce gov't are fine with the gov't spending money if it's on military or imprisoning people. The movement needs to be moderate and perfectly balanced in scaling back military bases, closing prisons, and cutting aid to poor single parents. Everyone has to accept that something they think is critical will be cut and that they will have to step up personally and use their personal money to pick up the slack. And it has to be slow, say, slightly reducing the percentage of GDP spent by gov't.

    I don't know how to stop the hot-button debates and get politicians to dial back gov't expenditures. The Tea Party people don't do it for me; they come off as total rednecks. So I'll vote for the people who are going to manage my healthcare expenses for me instead of those who promise to protect my marriage from my gay neighbors'.

    The Seasteading concept is the coolest policy concept I've heard of in years, but I wish gov't could give autonomy to neighborhoods or cities so people didn't have to go the expense of building a structure in a remote location.