No 20th century culture war slogans there, nor condescending criticism of single parent families or gay couples. This oft-neglected text, older than old-fashioned, states a very obvious caution about justice and money, governing and accountability.
If we are now in the stage of this election cycle that pledges or vows should be drawn and adopted, why not one that will meaningfully shift the balance of influence in our nation? The only pledge that matters is the one an incumbent or challenger adopts: a promise to voters not to accept more than $200 per donor per year (by Federal Election Commision statute, it’s the minimum aggregate donation for which a candidate for federal office is required to report the source).
As Matt Taibbi writes about the workings of Congress in his book, The Great Derangement: A Terrifyng True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, “When you [an elected legislator] get $80,000 from Company X, you’re not being paid to vote your conscience.” And elected officials feeding at the trough of corporate largesse have proven that the experience is far too compelling to self-impose campaign finance limits.
And so, the voters must supply the other side of this pledge equation: to refuse campaigning or voting for any candidate, incumbent or challenger, who hasn’t committed to limit campaign contributions to $200 per donor. There’s no doubt in any voter’s mind (within the lower 98 percent income group) that we have embarked upon deeply troubling times with increasingly dire economic and political prospects.
However, to bring about this bottom-up change will require an exceptional openness of mind from the the public, as well as some surrender of personal latitude. Voters will have to cooperate with one another individually and mutually among communities and various organizations. It will demand an attention to, and engagement with, civic and legislative affairs, equal to or greater than the slickest, palm-greasing Capitol Hill lobbyist around.