Idealism Meets Reality

The young Congressman from our district, Rep. Raul Labrador, ran on a very idealistic platform that essentially boiled down to "America was a much better place in the 19th century, and we should return to that" -- basically, straight Tea Party doctrine. (My posts from the campaign are here, here, and here.) As the underdog, Rep. Labrador apparently felt he needed to tap into Tea Party anger to get the Republican nomination, so he was the only major candidate to fill out the Tea Party Boise questionnaire. This document asked the candidates to "commit" or "pledge" to do several things, many of which were clearly delusional. Among the things that Candidate Labrador pledged to do was to "Vote "NO" on any bill that has not been read and understood by you and published on the web for at least 7 days prior to the vote". [Emphasis mine]

Fast forward to April Fool's Day. The Republican-controlled House had instituted a rule that non-emergency bills had to be online for three calendar days prior to a vote, so there have been plenty of bills that didn't meet the 7 day pledge of Rep. Labrador. On 4/1, the House voted on the "Government Shutdown Prevention Act of 2011", which had been introduced on March 30th (not even past the 72 Hour window promised by Rep. Boehner in 2010). The bill's frankly humorous purpose was to say that a bill previously passed by the House, and not passed by the Senate, was to be "hereby enacted into law" unless the Senate met their April 6th ultimatum; even Fox News agrees that the bill is foolish. Nevertheless, Rep. Labrador violated his own pledge by voting "YES" on the bill, despite the fact that it hadn't been on the web for at least seven days. (The "Defund NPR" bill had the same 72 Hour problem; Rep. Labrador was out of town, and didn't vote for that bill.)

Expect any defense of this violation of the pledge to center on the "emergency" nature of the bill; this would just tend to show that Congressman Labrador, whom I personally like, has bought into the Washington culture that voting for symbolic bills that have zero chance of becoming law is an "emergency". I don't have a problem with a politician recognizing, after he assumes office, that the reality of the world doesn't match his idealistic beliefs as a candidate; I just don't want them to blow smoke up my butt for their reasons for facing up to reality. I'll be interested to see if Rep. Labrador explains this to his Tea Party supporters before he renews his "pledges" in 2012.