The need last week for Congress to pass legislation raising the debt ceiling plunged the United States into a political and economic crisis likely to have repercussions in the next election cycle and to complicate recovery from our current economic woes. At least one factor in creating this crisis was a campaign sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform to have members of the federal House of Representatives sign a pledge not to vote for a net tax increase under any circumstance. Two Democrats and all but six of the 240 Republicans in the House have signed the pledge.
Kevin Yoder, a freshman Republican from Kansas, refused to sign the pledge. Yoder is a self-avowed fiscal conservative. He gives two reasons for refusing to sign the pledge: his responsibility is to his constituents not to Americans for Tax Reform and nobody can foresee every possible eventuality.
Although I disagree with Yoder’s political and economic views, I find his refusal to sign the pledge refreshing and applicable in many contexts. First, Yoder has the courage of his convictions. He recognizes that his oath of office imposes a duty upon him on behalf of his constituents. Second, admitting to not know the future embodies an estimable humility and self-confidence in the face of ambiguity.