Common Cause: Before you vote, check the pledge

Ethics is the foundation for our democracy. As the country struggles to uphold ethical norms of government, it’s up to us – the voters – to insist on ethical leadership.

“Principles above politics”

Sen Wayne Morse at picnic
"Sen Wayne Morse at picnic" by Clackamas County Historical Society is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Wayne Morse, Oregon’s political maverick, made this quote his slogan as well as his north star throughout his political career. Today, it seems as though many candidates have reversed the ideal — prioritizing partisan goals over the needs and wants of Oregonians.

Common Cause, through its Nonpartisan Ethics Workgroup, wants to bring back an era of politics in which the people, not the parties, are at the center of attention. That’s why the organization convened the Workgroup, composed of Republican, Democratic, and non-affiliated Oregonians. The group was charged with drafting a pledge for candidates to sign (see the pledge below). The hope is that voters will use the pledge as a means to hold candidates accountable for the sort of conduct that’s long been a goal of Oregon’s public sphere.

Though the pledge was only made available to candidates in select races this cycle, a number of candidates from both parties have already signed on.

Review the list of candidates and their stance on the pledge here.

Send in your feedback

Please send your comments on the pledge to our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/oregonway) so that we can keep the conversation going.

  • Do you think the pledge is a good way to hold candidates accountable?

  • What planks would you add to (or subtract from) the pledge?

  • Would you be more likely to vote for a candidate with a different party label than yourself if they signed the pledge?

The pledge

Candidates are expected to encourage the public to engage in the electoral process by upholding basic principles of honesty, fairness, responsibility, and respect. This will promote the public’s trust and confidence in the offices those candidates seek.

THEREFORE, as a candidate for public office, I pledge to conform my campaign to the following principles:

  • Respect

    • I will treat my opponents with courtesy and civility, even when we disagree about what is best for voters who are served by the office we seek. We all seek to serve the public and do the people’s work.

  • Candor

    • I will present my positions and record candidly and forthrightly so that the voters can judge my candidacy for office.

    • I will independently and authoritatively document all assertions my campaign makes in campaign communications.

  • Fairness

    • The timing of my communications will allow my opponents to have a two-hour opportunity to respond to any claims I make concerning their positions or qualifications to hold office.

    • I will not take undue advantage of any position I hold in the public, private or nonprofit sectors to pressure people to support my candidacy with either campaign contributions or other election help— aside from basic name recognition resulting from incumbency or renown in some field.

  • Relevance

    • I will not put forth irrelevant information, intended to foment voter prejudice based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin.

  • Responsibility

    • I support full participation in the electoral process and will take no action to discourage such participation.

    • I will promptly and publicly repudiate those who take actions that are inconsistent with this campaign conduct pledge and that seek to help my candidacy or hurt my opponents’ candidacy.