Now a new pledge is dominating elections, this one a bit more substantive but just as distracting in its own way.
Republican candidates seeking office in Hall County this year are being asked to sign a “no tax” pledge leading up to the May 20 primary. Hall GOP leaders began doing so in 2010, following a national trend led by conservative activist Grover Norquist to oppose all tax increases. The idea is to have candidates put in writing their promise to remain fiscally conservative.
Most are quick to sign such a pledge, but a few running for Hall school board seats this year have balked, believing such a rigid promise ties their hands once in office. And we can see their point.
We agree raising taxes at any time should only be a last resort. Governments should balance their budgets and spend no more than they take in.
Yet herein lies the problem: While no one wants to raise or pay more taxes (except maybe Hollywood millionaires), sometimes unforeseen problems make it unavoidable. Office-seekers who throw that option off the table are tying their own hands and setting their constituents up for a letdown. Issues that are the focus of campaigns often change after an election, and officials often must adjust to a changing reality.
Asking candidates to sign such a “no tax” pledge is painting them into a corner they can’t escape. Those who refuse likely will be targeted by other candidates as “big taxers,” even if all they really intend is to avoid making promises they may not keep. They will be labeled as “less than a real Republican” for this wise choice, apparently under the view that all party members must think and act in lockstep on every issue or risk being branded a wannabe.