May 28, 2012 Washington Post Letter: No-tax Pledges

–Richard E. Vatz

     No-tax pledges are like other signed pledges: They are the mirror image of flip-flopping. They are promises to no longer consider exigencies, no matter what they are, in making a decision on a particular issue.
     The presidential candidate I support, Mitt Romney, changed his position on whether to sign a “no-tax” pledge. I do not think such an action should be dispositive as to whether he gets my vote, as I support his politics in a wealth of other positions. But it is disquieting.
     In a representative democracy, pledges mean that the politician no longer represents his or her constituency or even his or her own current opinion, but only the opinion the representative held on the day the pledge was signed.
     If you want a perfect example of “pandering,” it is the signing under pressure of pledges to never reconsider a position that made sense to an important constituency at a particular place and time.
     I oppose raising taxes, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t support a reasonable pairing of drastic spending cuts with a negligible tax increase. Why tie the hands of good legislators so they lose their freedom of choice — a conservative value?
Richard E. Vatz, Towson, Md.

 Richard E. Vatz, Towson, Md. Professor Vatz teaches political persuasion Media Criticism at Towson University

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