A few weeks ago, we delved into the world of pledges that the members of the GOP field were being pressured into signing. Turns out we should have held off! Last night, news broke that Bob Vander Plaats -- who managed to successfully parlay a failed bid for the Iowa statehouse into a new gig as go-to social conservative kingmaker -- was set to unveil yet another one of these pledges. And today, under the auspices of his organization, The Family Leader, that pledge is now public. And it's a dilly!
The pledge is titled "The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence upon MARRIAGE and FAMILY" (emphasis in the original), and what follows is pretty standard-issue Christian conservative rhetoric on the definition of marriage and the sanctity of same, but it comes with a fiscal twist that basically makes it clear that Vander Plaats does not cotton to the notion that social issues can be divorced from economic concerns.
The pledge reads as follows:
The Candidate Vow:
Therefore, in any elected or appointed capacity by which I may have the honor of serving our fellow citizens in these United States, I the undersigned do hereby solemnly vow to honor and to cherish, to defend and to uphold, the Institution of Marriage as only between one man and one woman. I vow to do so through my:
--Personal fidelity to my spouse.
--Respect for the marital bonds of others.
--Official fidelity to the U.S. Constitution, supporting the elevation of none but faithful constitutionalists as judges or justices.
--Vigorous opposition to any redefinition of the Institution of Marriage - faithful monogamy between one man and one woman - through statutory-, bureaucratic-, or court-imposed recognition of intimate unions which are bigamous, polygamous, polyandrous, same-sex, etc.
--Recognition of the overwhelming statistical evidence that married people enjoy better health, better sex, longer lives, greater financial stability, and that children raised by a mother and a father together experience better learning, less addiction, less legal trouble, and less extramarital pregnancy.
--Support for prompt reform of uneconomic, anti-marriage aspects of welfare policy, tax policy, and marital/divorce law, and extended "second chance" or "cooling-off" periods for those seeking a "quickie divorce."
--Earnest, bona fide legal advocacy for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) at the federal and state levels.
--Steadfast embrace of a federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which protects the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman in all of the United States.
--Humane protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy - our next generation of American children - from human trafficking, sexual slavery, seduction into promiscuity, and all forms of pornography and prostitution, infanticide, abortion and other types of coercion or stolen innocence.
--Support for the enactment of safeguards for all married and unmarried U.S. Military and National Guard personnel, especially our combat troops, from inappropriate same-gender or opposite-gender sexual harassment, adultery or intrusively intimate commingling among attracteds (restrooms, showers, barracks, tents, etc.); plus prompt termination of military policymakers who would expose American wives and daughters to rape or sexual harassment, torture, enslavement or sexual leveraging by the enemy in forward combat roles.
--Rejection of Sharia Islam and all other anti-woman, anti-human rights forms of totalitarian control.
--Recognition that robust childbearing and reproduction is beneficial to U.S. demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial health and security.
--Commitment to downsizing government and the enormous burden upon American families of the USA's $14.3 trillion public debt, its $77 trillion in unfunded liabilities, its $1.5 trillion federal deficit, and its $3.5 trillion federal budget.
--Fierce defense of the First Amendment's rights of Religious Liberty and Freedom of Speech, especially against the intolerance of any who would undermine law-abiding American citizens and institutions of faith and conscience for their adherence to, and defense of, faithful heterosexual monogamy.
Most of what's encoded in the pledge is easily endorsed by the majority of the current GOP field (though Jon Huntsman, I'll remind you, is dead-set against pledge-signing of any sort). The pledge does strive for rigorous consistency (if not practicality), as seen in its preamble: "We acknowledge and regret the widespread hypocrisy of many who defend marriage yet turn a blind eye toward the epidemic of infidelity and the anemic condition of marriages in their own communities." Alexander Burns points out, however, that the "divorce piece in particular would be an awkward position for any presidential candidate to hold in a general election." (For Newt Gingrich, it will be awkward at any point on the campaign calendar.)
I'm interested in the tenability of the call for the "prompt termination of military policymakers who would expose American wives and daughters to rape or sexual harassment, torture, enslavement or sexual leveraging by the enemy in forward combat roles" and the human trafficking clause. In a technical sense, these clauses should imperil the livelihoods of many private military contractors who continue to receive taxpayer money despite the fact that they engage in these very activities with impunity. Challenging these contractors would be something of a watershed moment in contemporary policymaking, as there is currently a dearth of willpower to rein in these malefactors -- and I'd be willing to bet that few, if any, of the current GOP candidates are even remotely interested in intervening.
For what it's worth, here's my favorite part:
Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA's first African-American President.
I'm going to be generous and assume these statistics are accurate. Still, I'm not particularly amenable to the hinted argument that a child is better off being born into conscription than being raised by a single parent or same-sex couple. I guess we're going to find out what presidential candidates beg to differ!
If Rick Santorum isn't at the front of the queue to sign this, someone should really go and check to make sure he's okay.
UPDATE: The Des Moines Register reports that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) stepped up to be the first Republican presidential candidate to sign the pledge.