Why should we support the campaigns of candidates we oppose?

By The West Virginia Record | Aug 3, 2012

Two guys like the same girl. One guy's rich, the other poor. Whenever they go out on a date, the rich guy picks up the girl in a luxurious, late-model sedan and takes her to expensive restaurants and nightclubs.

The poor guy rides a bicycle to the girl's house, stopping at the supermarket on the way to pick up a frozen pizza and rent a dollar movie.

This doesn't seem fair to the poor guy, so he confronts his rival and demands that the rich guy share his wealth to make things more competitive. The rich guy looks at the poor guy like he's nuts and tells him to take a hike.

Imagine a businessman having to pay for the advertising of his competitor's products, thereby undercutting his own market share. That would be just as crazy.

Anyone can see the absurdity of having to finance one's rivals in love or commerce, but transfer the competition to the political arena –- where candidates vie for the hearts of voters –- and people get positively nonsensical.

The proponents of public financing have acted as though it made perfect sense for Republicans to be compelled to subsidize the campaigns of Democrats. Of course, when the tables are turned and a Republican winds up benefiting from the act, as has happened in the current Supreme Court race, they cry foul.

And the Republicans, to their shame, abandoned what was clearly a principled opposition to a bad idea.

Nevertheless, what Thomas Jefferson said two centuries ago still rings true today: "To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."

Compelling a taxpayer to furnish funds for the campaign of a candidate he opposes is exactly the same thing. Unfortunately, it's now the law in West Virginia.

Maybe the winning candidates in the current supreme court race will get the chance, in their first term, to rule it unconstitutional.

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