Cindi had a good column today on the subject of arbitrary caps and limits and pledges and the like. There are a number of good things to get out of it.
The first is the fact that Jon Huntsman is the only Republican presidential candidate who has refused to sign Jim DeMint’s Cut, Cap and Whatever pledge — which apparently irritates our junior senator no end.
Jim is all like, “I won’t support any candidate who does not support balancing the budget. … So for me, he’s out.”
Which ignores reality, of course. It doesn’t occur to Jim (or at least, he lets on that it doesn’t occur to him, on account of amassing personal political power now being the most important thing to him, judging by his actions) that a guy could be for a balanced budget amendment (which Huntsman is) and not want to kowtow to him by signing his pledge. For that matter, just to go way deeper into territory that Jim DeMint would find impossible to imagine, one can be for, very passionately for, a balanced budget — and yet not favor a constitutional amendment mandating it.
Personally, I’m ambivalent about the amendment thing. A balanced budget should be standing operating procedure, except in times of full-mobilization war and other serious emergencies. But that should be an annual decision by Congress, not a mechanism. Whether we’ve reached the point that we have to throw out that process is not yet entirely clear to me. Maybe we have. I’m just not sure.
That aside, though, there’s a bigger point here — a point even bigger than the national debt. It goes to the heart of representative democracy:
But there’s an important principle involved as well: Pledging to do or not do anything important is an abdication of elected officials’ duty to examine the issues before them and make their own decisions on behalf of their constituents. And it makes it impossible for officials to govern in a changing world. Imagine the pledges some politicians might have signed before 9/11 — and how that could have prevented them from taking necessary actions to protect our nation after the attacks “changed everything.”
Yes! Yes! YESSSS!!! (Waiter, I’ll have what he’s having…) Continuing…
When you sign away your right to consider all your options, when you are bound by uninformed opinions, when you take directions from people whose primary purpose is to maintain power and defeat those who don’t think exactly as they do, rather than taking advantage of different points of view to come up with the best solutions, then you can’t even imagine the complex solutions to our state’s interwoven ills, much less enact them.
Sounds like Cindi was listening all those years, huh? Not that she couldn’t have come up with all those thoughts on her own. Come to think of it, maybe it was me listening to her…