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Good Campaign Oath

Spirit of 76 (Words)

The Oath Text:

“As a candidate for public service, I do solemnly swear to support and defend America’s great heritage of free, fair elections. This includes my pledge to never engage in illegal, distorting or unethical campaign practices; to quickly report any unlawful or suspect conduct within my campaign or by outsiders – foreign or domestic; to ensure a harassment-free workplace for my volunteers and staff; and to support laws that protect and strengthen our democracy. So help me God.”

Q: How do candidates take the Good Campaign Oath?

Jeff: The Good Campaign Oath is the political version of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Candidates merely film themselves taking the oath, challenge other candidates to do the same, and then post the video to Social Media using the hashtags #ITookTheVote and #FreeTheVote. And if they are camera-shy, they can also register their Oath online here.

Q: What inspired you to create The Oath?

Jeff: The inspiration was a recognition all winning candidates take oaths of office that commit them to preserve and defend the Constitution, America and its democratic principles. But after these long, anything-goes campaigns, hasn’t all the ethical damage already been done? Given that elections are the bedrock of our democracy, I decided to create an oath to remind us candidates how important campaigning ethically is to leading effectively.

Q: Why now?

Jeff: Unethical campaign practice have always been with us. The distorting political ads, push-polling, walk-around money, Swift-boating, whisper campaigns suggesting John McCain fathered a black love child. 

And it’s only accelerated in recent years. Birtherism, the racial dog whistles and the stunning low of a presidential candidate openly inviting and benefiting from foreign meddling in our elections. Plus, we’ve heard too many stories about campaign and political staff being sexually harassed and bullied into silence.

Since our elections are the bedrock of our democracy, the time is overdue for a Good Campaign Oath to remind candidates to run campaigns of the highest ethical nature. 

Isn't your Oath partly about Ami Bera and his 80-year-old father who went to jail in a quarter-of-a-million-dollar campaign money-laundering scheme?

Jeff: Good-government ethics are not a stunt for me, and I would have launched a Good Campaign Oath regardless of my opponent. But I can’t deny that my opponent and I are night and day in our proximity to good campaign and good government practices. He thinks it is okay to take an all-expenses-paid luxury Middle East trip paid for by the government of Qatar, and to raise money from the industries his committees oversee. In contrast, I won’t even take a dime from someone not in my district.

Q: Why did you include the phrase “So help me God” in The Oath?

Jeff: I modeled the oath on existing oaths taken by members of Congress and the military branches, and this is featured in most of them. But any candidate who prefers to alter or omit that last line will be applauded just as strongly by me as someone who includes it. After all, history shows a belief in a Creator does not lessen or increase anyone’s ethics, patriotism or desire to be an earnest public servant.

The Oath Q&A: