Every four years something special comes through our TVs and straight into our living rooms. We cheer, we laugh, we cry, we hear great speeches, we unmask villains, and an entire generation becomes inspired. I’m talking of course about the Summer Olympics.
For the past decade, the Summer Olympics have fallen (unfortunately) right after the Democrat and Republican Conventions. But shouldn’t we be happy about political conventions? Don’t we select our next president through the democratic process and narrow whom we will vote for in November?
While we are lucky to live a country that decides presidential elections based on the democratic process, truth is, conventions haven’t really meant anything since Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford walked into a contested convention in 1976. With minor exceptions, the conventions this year offer very little real drama. They are, in fact, highly orchestrated, very expensive parties for political activists, consultants, and the media (go figure).
However, as we witness the conclusion of the presidential nominating process in Cleveland and Philadelphia, there’s a small glimmer of hope that is being lost in all of the headlines: This is the first political convention season since the 1970s that you and I as taxpayers have not subsidized.
Since 1976, taxpayers have contributed over $110 million in party convention grants to support these hugely partisan events, and over $1.5 billion to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.
Until this year, taxpayers have helped pay for party convention stages, confetti, balloons, food, and booze. But no more. After the 2012 election cycle, taxpayers were fed up with extravagant, partisan, taxpayer-funded parties and demanded change.
In 2014, former Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma championed a bill to eliminate these costly taxpayer funded conventions. The bill passed unanimously and President Obama signed it into law.
In a season of billion dollar deficits, this may seem like small potatoes. However, in this silly convention season, we can at least celebrate taxpayers being freed from this most egregious use of their money.
Though this election season continues to divide the American people, it is refreshing to see that when taxpayers come together and demand change good things can follow. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican or independent, we can all find hope in the fact that we are no longer footing this bill.