Letter: Time for a new pledge

Published: 9/22/2022 10:54:09 AM
Modified: 9/22/2022 10:53:31 AM

“The pledge” is an unwritten New Hampshire political shackle, dating from the 1950s and becoming prominent in the 1970s, that was invented to shame broad-based tax initiatives that would strengthen democracy and our common good.

Proponents appeal to our tradition of frugality and local control. Opponents point out the slow and steady destruction of community within our towns and institutions. The pledge consistently undermines our state’s ability to address educational inequity, forces an over-reliance on unconscionably high property taxes, delays necessary infrastructure investment and reinforces the pattern and practice of rural disinvestment.

It is a powerful political gimmick that Granite Staters have been sold since the Nixon administration, that we are "advantaged" solely by our state's tax policy. There has been no serious study to prove or disprove this theory, since the pledge was coined for use on a campaign yard sign. And because this gimmick boosts the incomes of high-income residents, it persists and is now the core tenant of conservative catechism. It’s the magic dust that wins elections. It is a hammer and when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

The meanings of phrases evolve over time. I suggest that we redefine the meaning of “the pledge” for the 2022 midterm election to be the refutation of the MAGA “big lie” funding gimmick that President Joe Biden did not win the 2020 election.

The next time you have an opportunity to ask a politician a question, ask them if they will pledge that  Biden won the election. If their answer is mendacious, move on. With practice and patience, we can turn “the pledge” from a political gimmick that makes our state an amusement park for rich people into a sorting hat that promotes patriotism.

John Zavgren



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