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The Sherman pledge, Shermanesque speech or Sherman speech is a declaration by someone being considered for political office that they have no intent to run for political office, and will do all in their power to avoid running. In other words, they’ll run for the hills rather than run for office. The statement is derived from General William Tecumseh Sherman, one of the great figures of the American Civil War, who declared his intent not to accept any nomination to run for president in 1884. His pledge, which later became referred to as the Sherman pledge is the following: “If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve.”
Since the initial Sherman pledge, there have been many proposed candidates who have invoked similar pledges, either declaring their intent not to seek reelection or to attempt to convince anyone who might nominate them for an office that they are not interested. Perhaps one of the most frustrating of these, especially to Democrats in the US, is Al Gore’s lack of the pledge, but also lack of action in running for president. He has never actually made a Sherman pledge, but many are frustrated by his lack of interest in running. Many Democrats have felt, however, especially with the growing popularity of Gore and his recent win of the Nobel Peace Prize that he would be the best fit for President. News reporters have repeatedly tried to either determine whether he will state the possibility of running in the future or make a Shermanesque speech.
Sometimes politicians use a version of the Sherman Pledge to determine just how disappointed people would be if they didn’t run, thus voiding the pledge. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a variant of the Sherman Pledge at the end of 2007. On the other hand, news broke in early 2008, that Bloomberg had been conducting private polls to determine whether a run for president made sense.
Versions of the Sherman pledge have been said and meant by a variety of people. President Lyndon Johnson vowed not to seek a second term as president, and Vice President Dick Cheney made the pledge not to run for president in 2008. As an incumbent vice president, Cheney would normally have been the natural choice to run for the 2008 presidency for the Republican Party. His Sherman Pledge was a nearly direct quote of General Sherman’s declaration.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Sherman Pledge?
A Sherman Pledge is a commitment made by a political candidate, typically during a campaign, to refuse contributions from certain sources deemed undesirable or unethical. The term originates from the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, symbolizing the candidate's stand against monopolistic or corrupt influences. By taking such a pledge, the candidate signals a commitment to transparency and integrity in their campaign financing.
Why do candidates take a Sherman Pledge?
Candidates take a Sherman Pledge to demonstrate their dedication to running a campaign free from the influence of special interest groups, large corporations, or other entities that might expect policy favors in return for financial support. This pledge is meant to reassure voters that the candidate's decisions will be based on the public interest rather than on the interests of major donors.
How does a Sherman Pledge affect campaign financing?
When a candidate takes a Sherman Pledge, it can significantly alter the landscape of their campaign financing. They may have to rely more heavily on small individual donations and grassroots fundraising efforts. This can lead to a more democratic financing structure but may also put the candidate at a financial disadvantage compared to opponents who accept larger contributions.
Can a Sherman Pledge be legally enforced?
A Sherman Pledge is generally not legally binding; it is a moral and ethical commitment. The enforcement of the pledge relies on the candidate's integrity and the vigilance of the media and the public. If a candidate breaks the pledge, they may face political repercussions, such as loss of public trust and support.
Are there any notable examples of candidates who have taken a Sherman Pledge?
While specific examples of candidates who have taken a "Sherman Pledge" are not commonly cited in mainstream media, the concept is similar to pledges made by candidates like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, who have publicly refused to take money from certain political action committees (PACs) and large corporations. These commitments are part of a broader movement towards campaign finance reform aimed at reducing the influence of money in politics.