Not with my money

Imagine your door bell ringing at dinner time. It’s a politician asking for your vote. After some discussion, you realize she doesn’t share your views, so you tell her she won’t be getting your vote, or your campaign contribution.

Imagine your surprise when she says she’s already got your contribution thanks to a campaign finance law recently passed by the Portland City Council.

Outraged, you quote Thomas Jefferson who said that “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.”

She says “this is a democracy and the city councilors voted to spend your tax dollars on my campaign.”

“But,” you ask, “in a democracy aren’t the people allowed to vote on such things?”

“Yes,” she says, “that’s why the city council will let you vote on it in 2010, after you’ve had a chance to see how it works.”

“But they voted on it before they saw how it worked, why can’t I?”

She smirks and says “you’ll just have to wait, that’s all.”

“What if I sign the petition going around that would let me vote on this thing in May?”

“But, but…” she stammers, “that could deny me the use of your money for my campaign.”

“That’s what I told you in the first place. Now please go away so I can eat my dinner in peace.”

Steve Buckstein is senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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