This Article originally provided by
February 27, 2008
There's no need to take sides in campaign
Clean elections are a no-brainer. Everyone wins. But in this world where flaws
and disguise have power to influence American principles and dreams, we have
become conditioned to look for the catch, so we often don't see at face value
what is simple and good. Clear, simple, positive language is needed.
elections are a no-brainer. Everyone wins. But in this world where flaws and
disguise have power to influence American principles and dreams, we have become
conditioned to look for the catch, so we often don't see at face value what is
simple and good. Clear, simple, positive language is needed.
Before the Legislature now is a bill called the "West Virginia Public
Campaign Financing Act." Based on successes in many states, it offers a process
where taxpayers give an imperceptible amount annually for campaigning, so that
less-than-rich people can run more easily for public office. The system is
voluntary and candidates who participate agree to spending limits.
Yet, it bothers me that publicly financed campaign reform is called "clean."
First, "clean" implies that the present system is dirty, when it sometimes
isn't. Second, benefits of publicly financed campaigns are seldom argued, so why
set a tone of "them vs. us"?
We don't have to take sides to show we want more diverse candidates on a
fairer playing field who don't play the game the way those who paid for their
campaigns want them to. With a process so obviously good and rarely protested,
we don't need to call names.
We do need to educate West Virginians about the opportunity. I suggest we
start with the benefits:
Citizens would get better choices and diversity in elections.
Candidates would be able to be candidates.
When I learned about West
Virginia's bill from Carol Warren, a Webster County leader, I asked, "What can
"No state has had problems," she answered.
I thought of my friend, Allen Loughry II, who wrote, "Don't Buy Another Vote,
I Won't Pay for A Landslide!" and his worry that we West Virginians don't seem
to feel we can oppose graft and corruption. I wondered if candidates who could
be publicly financed would be too intimidated to run against moneyed candidates.
I said to myself, "If something can go wrong, it will, eventually, and too often
in West Virginia."
Now, after thinking, I see that West Virginia is in a position of strength.
We need to make clear to ourselves and others that we "get it" and that we can
pass it on to other states coming along.
Let's coin new names or phrases for ads about publicly financed campaigns.
Let's make them so clear and basic, and aesthetically good, that every West
Virginian who sees an ad will "get it." Let's trademark our phrase, and let
other states know what we've done, with pride and skill at good communications.
Let's start an ad campaign, perhaps a simple survey. People love surveys.
Of course, we must figure out who's going to finance the ad campaign. Don't
laugh. To quote Rosie the Riveter, our pinup girl, "We can do it!"
Montague, of Cross Lanes, is executive director of Thanks!
Plain and Simple Inc.