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Fund your own conventions

Federal support makes little sense

By The Mercury

Would you forgive the observation that we have not watched a single minute of the TV coverage of the Republican National Convention? Would you similarly forgive the observation that we don’t plan to watch the Democrats next week either?

There was a time when national political conventions were meaningful exercises, but that time has long since past. Today’s conventions are just infomercials on a par with anything produced by the Home Shopping Network.

Of course if the party’s continue to insist on holding them, that’s their call. Likewise if the networks continue to give them coverage, albeit in reduced form, well, those networks are private enterprises entitled to make a buck as they see fit. That’s what makes America great.

Paying for the conventions is another matter entirely. The best estimates are that about $136 million of your tax money and mine is being shipped to the two major parties this year to help underwrite the costs of the conventions. About $100 million of that total will go toward security. The remainder will be for the essentials: food, booze, stuff to fall from the ceiling, brass bands, etc.

One is reminded of baseball pitcher Tug McGraw’s response to the question about how he planned to spend his World Series winnings. “Ninety percent I’ll spend on good times, women and Irish Whiskey. The rest I’ll probably waste.”

We are not alone in the view. No less an august body than the United States Senate voted 95-4 just a few months back to prohibit the use of federal funds for the party conventions themselves. The measure would become effective Dec. 31 if — and this is obviously a big if — the House concurs. It would not withhold the $100 million in security funds, but would cut out the $36 million payments that help to fund all the convention goodies.

Whatever the merits of the current political nominating system, the convention serves little purpose justifying public attention, and none whatsoever justifying public expense. When the 2016 convention fun and games begin, let them do so on the parties’ own nickels rather than on ours.

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