As leverage, it is essential to have another individual in the race sign the pledge.
Ideally it should be the incumbent's major-party opponent. If it is, it's a done deal. He or she will sign. No candidate in their right mind is going to hand their primary opponent that kind of advantage by refusing to match the stakes.
But it could be any minor-party candidate, or even an independent. This candidate is a very different kind of threat __ the wild card! __ the 'spoiler candidate'.
First let's remind ourselves of this: Besides the Democrats and Republicans, there are three political parties which have active, aggressive, structured organizations at both the state and national levels: the Libertarian Party, Constitution Party, and the Green Party of the United States. The Green Party, for example, is registered and functioning in every state of the union, and Washington DC.
Additionally, there are 37 minor parties, some national, some local or regional, and they regularly put candidates on the ballot.
It seems reasonable to assume that in any congressional race, it would be possible to find at least one candidate from this profusion of parties willing to sign the pledge. Minor-party candidates always need all the help they can get for their usually doomed efforts to win a seat. Many such candidates are already running on populist platforms in support of the very initiatives we would be promoting. These causes are typically their raison d'Ãªtre for even tackling the thankless and typically futile ordeal of running against the big guns of the major parties. We can expect them to gleefully sign the pledge.
As a final resort, someone could volunteer to be a write-in candidate, where local election laws permit, and sign the pledge.
The important thing is to be able to honestly claim that another candidate in the race __ even just a "spoiler", wild-card minor-party or independent candidate __ has already signed the pledge.
Step 3: Confronting the Targeted Candidate
The candidate is shown the petition signatures. The candidate is asked to sign the pledge.
Here is a sample pledge for leaving social security alone, which depending on how the polling question is framed, nationally registers from 64% to 80% voter support. It offers a template for demands on a host of other issues:
I, [candidate name], if re-elected to my seat in the [Senate/House of Representatives], hereby commit to co-sponsor and vote in favor of legislation to establish a 10-year moratorium on any reductions to social security benefits, on increasing the eligibility age, or making any other alteration in the program as it is now configured such as might negatively impact eligible recipients of such benefits. I will offer no resistance to, put up no impediment to, and in fact will publicly and on the floor of Congress actively promote any and all legislation in support of this measure. If no other legislator comes forth to offer such a moratorium I will create and introduce by my own initiative, within 90 days of taking office, such a legislative act.
I further understand and fully agree to the following: If I violate the above-stated terms of this pledge, I will tender on the 91st day after taking an oath of office for my legislative seat, my full and unqualified resignation from this elected position. Moreover, within one year of my resignation, I will refund all contributions made from individual donors in support of my candidacy for this office.
This entire pledge constitutes a legally binding contract between myself and that class of citizens who will be my constituents, should I win the upcoming election. In the event that I fail to perform any of the above-required actions, redress may be sought by those same citizens in the form of a class-action suit in a civil court of law, and I will be liable for a minimum of $10,000,000 damages for breach of contract. If I fail to resign from office due to my failure to fulfill the other requirements of this contract, I may be liable for an additional class-action settlement in the amount of $50,000,000. No portion of these specified settlements may be paid from campaign donations, PACs or SuperPACs.
I take this pledge voluntarily and with full appreciation of my responsibility to those citizens I will be representing in my capacity as elected representative from [name of state]. I accept the terms of this pledge with a thorough and lucid understanding of its requirements and consequences.
Signed: _________________________ Date: _______________