Back in 1998, Sen. Sam Brownback -- an advocate of term limits -- put pen to paper and pledged to serve only two full terms in the U.S. Senate and then step aside to permit another Kansan to take the seat. On Thursday, he officially announced his intention to honor his pledge.
In a perfect world, this would be an unremarkable event: A politician makes an unambiguous promise and then keeps it. But in our world, where politicians face enormous temptations and pressure to distance themselves from such promises, this simple act of integrity is worthy of special note.
For this reason, I flew up from my home in South Florida (72 degrees, sun) to East Kansas (16 degrees, ice) to assist in making the announcement. Together we held joint press conferences in Olathe, Topeka and Wichita on Thursday.
For the Topeka Capital Journal and Kansas City Star's take on it, see http://cjonline.com/stories/121908/loc_369256809.shtml and http://www.kansascity.com/637/story/943772.html.
Sen. Brownback first took the seat in 1996, in a special election to fill out then-Sen. Bob Dole's term when Dole ran for president. Since then, Sen. Brownback won his two subsequent elections with increasing margins and he continues to enjoy high approval ratings today. And yet, at 52 -- a relative babe in the Senate where the average age exceeds 60 -- he is retiring from the senate to start a new chapter of his life.
In doing this, Sen. Brownback joins an elite crowd of politicians who have signed the U.S. Term Limits pledge and then kept their word. Sen. Jim DeMint, Sen. Tom Coburn and South Carolina Mark Sanford are all pledge honorers who moved on to other offices.
Many other politicians have reneged on their promises. Tough luck for them: while several pledge breakers have continued to retain their current seats, none have ever won higher office.
“As fellow Kansans know, your word is your bond,” Sen. Brownback said. “If a man breaks his word, it breaks the man.”