Why the Pledge to America Bombed
In 1994 the Contract with America sealed the deal. For months, Republicans had been demonizing Bill Clinton and the Democratic Congress. Newt Gingrich disparaged Clinton daily for a “socialist” agenda, philandering, and insider capitalism. Gingrich was having his own affair and would soon leave in disgrace. But in ’94, the Contract was the knockout punch for a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives.
Given electoral success in the ’94 midterms, it only made sense to try a repeat. But the Pledge to America landed like a load of elephant dung at the circus, barely capturing one news cycle before being shoveled up and binned. What went wrong? Here’s the prevailing analysis:
That’s a lot of filler in there, big fella
The 45 page document is full of white space and big color photographs of mountains and monuments. It has three title pages, a two page “pledge” that says almost nothing, a six page forward that rehashes old Republican talking points, and thirty more pages. About half the remaining pages contain photos of Republican House Members, no fewer than 44 in all. It even has a two-page back cover. Taken at a glance, it looks like one of those planned-community brochures that real estate developers create so you won’t notice they knocked down all the trees – lots of shiny, not much shade.
It’s simply The Party of No… on paper
In many ways, the Pledge is a written version of what we’ve already heard. Republicans promise to stop healthcare, stop regulation of business, stop collecting taxes, stop old people from retiring, and stop any attempt to stop favoring the rich.
The document envisions a government that does nothing for citizens, does anything for corporations, and protects the Department of Defense as the primary instrument for corporate welfare. But none of this is new. These ideas have dominated Fox News (and enjoyed substantial airing at other news outlets) for two years now.Continued on the next page