A Conservative Distaste For Political Pledges

So now the blogosphere is mulling Mitt Romney’s unwillingness to sign the Susan B Anthony pledge. Herman Cain will not sign it either. I have expressed doubts about Mitt Romney here: Mitt Romney is Not the Answer. I clearly am not a fan of Governor Romney even though he’s superior to President Obama and frankly stated I have strong if not cynical reservations about his being pro life. In that light I understand why many people are upset at his not signing the pledge.

I am not so much defending Mitt Romney as I am dismissing political pledges of any kind. One only needs to look at Grover Norquist’s defense of the ethanol subsidy as a tax increase if revoked as a clear example of how pledges can be distorted. When it comes to pledges I am just cynical. The most ambitious of political figures would show no compunction in signing pledges when there is an obvious political advantage.Do they have to mean what they say? No. A pledge represents at the presidential level a short term advantage to curry favor with necessary allies. Pledges are exploitive I believe by their nature.

Mitt Romney is certainly aware of his shortcomings on abortion and it certainly would be expedient just to sign the pledge. But he chose not to sign in spite of its obvious appeal if for no other reason but to allay the suspicions of the pro life community. Mind you I’m not naive about Romney’s larger motive. I believe his decision was made with an eye towards the general election,hoping to appeal to moderate voters and hoping he does not alienate conservative voters like myself. Of course I’m an unlikely vote in the Florida primary anyway.Romney is hedging his bets as most politicians do.

Herman Cain is giving Mitt Romney cover by refusing to sign the pledge as well.

In the end I dislike pledges because I simply have a healthy dose of cynicism where politics is concerned. As a conservative I’ve had my hope dashed by too many pledge signers to care who signs and who does not sign. Mitt Romney wasn’t going to get my vote anyway, but the absence of his John Hancock on the pledge isn’t the reason. Mitt Romney is betting that the economy is going to choose our nominee and just enough of us will hold our nose and pull his lever. He’s gambling he can get by on just enough,especially given that there are many open primaries. I hope he’s wrong,but he’s probably right,but more on that in a future post. I’ve judged him on the merits and don’t need it restated on paper.