Donald Trump, the presidential front-runner for the Republican party, has signed the loyalty pledge. The pledge basically states that Trump will endorse and promises to support whoever the eventual nominee for the Republican party is. The pledge also means that Trump cannot seek the presidency as a third-party candidate at any point down the road, whether he wins the Republican nomination or not.
Trump signed the pledge after meeting with the Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus privately on Thursday morning. Not too long after being in the meeting, Trump came out to Trump Towers and said he signed the pledge. Trump gave a statement which in part said that the reason he signed the pledge was because if he wins the nomination, he could go directly against whoever the Democratic nomination is. Trump then said as he held up the piece of paper, he is pledging is allegiance to the Republican Party and the conservative principles behind what the party stands for, vowing to fight and win.
For Trump, this is his official declaration of allegiance to the Republican Party, so this should help calm down some of the Republicans who feared he was going to sabotage the campaign and party. For weeks now, Trump has been sitting on the top of the polls, reaching 30 percent, as he rails against the establishment politicians and also political correctness that has overcome America. Trump has been feuding with a number of people and groups, including Fox anchor Megyn Kelly, Mexico, and immigrants. Although Trump prides himself on being the anti-establishment, the pledge makes it so that he would need to support the nominee, which could end up being an established member of the party, like Jeb Bush. Some people within the Republican Party and specifically the Tea Party feel this pledge is nothing because often times the GOP ends up not being loyal to its own members, so being forced essentially to sign this pledge does little to build cohesion and unity among the conservatives.
Trump said that he made the decision to sign the pledge in part because the Republican Party has been “extremely fair” to him in recent months, and he included the Chairman of the Republican National Committee in that statement. Trump said that is all he has wanted all along was just to be treated fairly and be taken seriously, and he said that piece of paper is assurance he would be treated fairly just like everyone else in the race. The pledge has been going around to all of the Republican candidates this week, which the Republicans claim will bring out those who really are for supporting the party and the candidate, whoever that might be, The pledge goes into detail about not running as an independent or seeking a write-in nomination or a third-party candidacy. To do a third-party run is very expensive, so most people felt Trump, although he has the money, would not do it because it is such a tedious process.
Interestingly enough, this pledge goes both ways, because now the Republican candidates, some of which do not like Trump, now must also say that they would support Trump if he was the nominee. Bush in particular stands out since he has been feuding with Trump for weeks now, often clashing in ideologies and word choices. Bush just this morning was on “Good Morning America” and again bashed Trump saying insulting your way to the presidency won’t work, and he thinks that is what Trump is trying to do. Bush was then asked whether or not he would support Trump if he was the nominee, and Bush answered yes he would, because Bush said the party needs to be unified to win. While a lot of people put stock into this pledge, it actually has no merit or legal value, meaning that there is literally nothing to stop someone from signing the pledge and then going back on that word. All the pledge is really is an honor system type of document, there is no legal repercussions if you don’t do what the paper says, and this makes some people question the importance of it. Trump could come out in a couple weeks and say he rethought the situation and now will run third-party, and there is nothing to stop him as the loyalty pledge has no meaning besides your word. While someone could do this, it is unlikely to happen because even though the pledge has no significance in a court of law, it is you signing your name and giving your word, and sometimes all you have is your word. If you go back on your word, it will be almost impossible to have a real shot at the presidency because people would think that you won’t do what you say or do what you promised because you backed out of the pledge.
The issue though is that if you want to get on the ballot or you want to continue in the Republican race, you have to sign the pledge. A lot of states require you sign it to get onto the ballot, and it also is needed because of the debates. Most of the backers of the debates also require the pledge to be signed to participate further down the road in those debates, so you are in a nutshell, forced to sign the allegiance pledge if you want to move on as a candidate. It is not known yet what the impact of signing the pledge will do for Trump as far as his poll numbers and popularity, since he has built himself as an anti-establishment candidate. This pledge almost makes it seem like Trump is now going all-in with the establishment, although some might see it more as a way to progress in the race and not hold it against Trump, especially since it is required to get onto the ballot in a lot of states. Only time will tell whether or not the pledge will hurt or help Trump, but one thing is clear, now the establishment must also play nice to Trump.