Imagine a candidate running on a platform that likes to stress its mastery of “moral highground” who actually walks the walk.
That may be the lofty goal of a new vetting process adopted by the executive committee of the Republican Party in the county of Laurens, South Carolina.
Last week, a quorum of the committee voted unanimously to pass a resolution requiring all candidates who run for public office on the GOP ticket to sign a pledge of support for the state Republican Party platform as well as “to have demonstrated through their actions that they uphold the principles found therein.”
Some of the 28 items are “standard fare” for Republicans, like opposing abortion and upholding gun rights.
But it goes a lot further. If you’re a candidate, here are a few things you’ll face from the pledge:
- You must favor, and live up to, abstinence before marriage.
- You must be faithful to your spouse, Your spouse cannot be a person of the same gender, and you are not allowed to favor any government action that would allow for civil unions of people of the same sex.
- You cannot now, from the moment you sign this pledge, look at pornography.
A candidate who claims to have been present at the public meeting during which it was announced that the pledge had been agreed to in executive session says he was told unofficially that a subcommittee of three will interview candidates and then recommend to the entire executive committee whether the candidate will be placed on the ballot.
The pledge goes on to say that the local party will seek to hold candidates “into account,” though it does not explain exactly how local Republican brethren will accomplish this task.
Taking a ball-peen hammer to one’s kneecaps, perhaps?
The chairman of the state’s Republican Party says some kind of vetting process is necessary:
“If we are wearing the same uniform, I want to be sure we are kicking the ball toward the same goal, or are you moving against me?”
But he also says he doesn’t think this process will turn into trying to determine who is and who isn’t a “true” Republican.
(Did I just hear a flip-flop?)
The resolution actually says, in part, “candidates must meet in person with the with the Candidate Qualification Committee of the Laurens County Republican Party prior to the qualification and certification process; and … no filing by a candidate will be accepted by the Laurens County Republican Party unless the Laurens County Republican Party Executive Committee has voted, within 24 hours of the closing of the filing period, that the candidate meets the qualifications for office for which the candidate desires to file, or will meet the qualifications by the time of the general election.”
But pushed on the authority the pledge and the “interview process” seems to give the Executive Committee with regard to who does or doesn’t make the ballot, the country’s party leader issued a follow-up statement:
“However, due to [sic] various legal issues, the Laurens County Republican Party Chairman, its officers and the Executive Committee WILL NOT REFUSE TO CERTIFY ANY CANDIDATE FILING FOR PUBLIC OFFICE ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY TICKET IF HE OR SHE MEETS THE QUALIFICATIONS ESTABLISHED BY THE STATE OF SC. The Laurens County Republican Party reserves the right to vet its candidates and will encourage all candidates to uphold the principles of the party’s platform as well as petition candidates to sign a pledge to do so. However, no candidate will be denied access to the Republican Party primary ballot for refusing to sign the pledge.” (Emphasis and grammar error his.)
Doesn’t that statement pretty much eliminate any presumed power the “pledge” had?
What do you think about this unusual development? Laurens County, incidentally, is the home of not only the home of the state’s Ku Klux Klan museum but was also home to the headquarters of the American Nazi Party’s 2008 presidential nominee.
Does the idea of signing a pledge of this type go too far, or do political parties need to get into such specifics to make sure their candidates are, in every aspect, on the same page? Do you think voters should do the vetting on their own instead of the party attempting such a pledge? And in today’s society, would you automatically believe any candidate who voluntarily signs such a pledge would actually be willing to follow everything within it?