Tomorrow, John Boehner and the House Republicans will unveil their “Pledge To America,” which is consciously modeled on the Contract With America that played a role in the GOP’s 1994 takeover of Congress. CBS News has obtained a draft of the document, which you can download here. So far, I have only had time to skim the Pledge. We will have more to say over the next few days, but here are some initial impressions.
The Pledge is a much more radical document than the Contract With America was. I mean that in a positive sense: the Contract was a collection of micro-issues that polled overwhelmingly well–for example, that Congress should be subject to the same employment laws that it inflicts on the rest of us. But those were more placid times. This year’s Pledge is a ringing statement of first principles. It deliberately echoes the Constitution and, especially, the Declaration of Independence. The Pledge begins:
America is more than a country.
America is an idea – an idea that free people can govern themselves, that government’s powers are derived from the consent of the governed, that each of us is endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America is the belief that any man or woman can – given economic, political, and religious liberty – advance themselves, their families, and the common good.
America is an inspiration to those who yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine their own destiny.
Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course.
These first principles were proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, enshrined in the Constitution, and have endured through hard sacrifice and commitment by generations of Americans.
In a self-governing society, the only bulwark against the power of the state is the consent of the governed, and regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent.
An unchecked executive, a compliant legislature, and an overreaching judiciary have combined to thwart the will of the people and overturn their votes and their values, striking down long-standing laws and institutions and scorning the deepest beliefs of the American people.
An arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites makes decisions, issues mandates, and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many.
Rising joblessness, crushing debt, and a polarizing political environment are fraying the bonds among our people and blurring our sense of national purpose.
Like free peoples of the past, our citizens refuse to accommodate a government that believes it can replace the will of the people with its own. The American people are speaking out, demanding that we realign our country’s compass with its founding principles and apply those principles to solve our common problems for the common good.
The need for urgent action to repair our economy and reclaim our government for the people cannot be overstated.
With this document, we pledge to dedicate ourselves to the task of reconnecting our highest aspirations to the permanent truths of our founding by keeping faith with the values our nation was founded on, the principles we stand for, and the priorities of our people. This is our Pledge to America.
We pledge to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers and honor the original intent of those precepts that have been consistently ignored – particularly the Tenth Amendment, which grants that all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
We pledge to advance policies that promote greater liberty, wider opportunity, a robust defense, and national economic prosperity.
We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values.
We pledge to make government more transparent in its actions, careful in its stewardship, and honest in its dealings.
We pledge to uphold the purpose and promise of a better America, knowing that to whom much is given, much is expected and that the blessings of our liberty buoy the hopes of mankind.
We make this pledge bearing true faith and allegiance to the people we represent, and we invite fellow citizens and patriots to join us in forming a new governing agenda for America.
There is much more about specific policies–the Pledge is lengthier than the Contract–and those proposals contain few surprises. Contain government spending, roll back TARP and the stimulus, preserve the Bush tax cuts, and so on. There are just a few charts and graphs in the document, but this one caught my eye; click to enlarge:
At the end of the day, federal spending is what the debate is all about. More federal spending means less money, less power, less freedom, less self-control for you. Or else for your children. Less federal spending means more power, freedom and self-control for you and your family, plus a much stronger economy. The Republicans are on the winning side of that argument.