Once again, Seattle, otherwise known as the Petri dish of progressive political laboratories, is constantly inventing new ways to push the neo-leftist envelope—most often, by spending taxpayer money, violating citizen’s rights, or both. In this case, it’s the citizens’ money, and it’s not chump change. The city has “budgeted $4.2 million in Democracy Voucher funding for candidates in 2019.”
This unique experiment was the product of a city ballot measure passed in 2015. Reportedly, it was the first of its kind in the nation. The open-minded, critically thinking libertarian in me is admittedly intrigued. However, I trust the left so little (and Seattle’s left least of all) that I am skeptical—okay, cynical—about such a program.
A city that should be focusing all its energy on the catastrophe of its police officers’ fleeing the city en masse is instead busy conducting senseless political experiments that transfer its taxpayers’ dollars to those running for city office.
They say they are advancing this voucher program to encourage more “ordinary” people to participate in politics beyond voting by contributing to candidates they support. Supporters argue only two percent of the city’s population were funding city council races. On its face, that doesn’t sound like a great thing in a democracy. But is it right for a paternal city government to give money to citizens who then give it to political candidates? Perhaps the city could lower taxes and allow people to keep more of their own money, so they could afford to donate to candidates.
How it works: The city sends (also available online) four $25 vouchers to registered voters. Voters can divide them among a combination of favored contenders, or can send them all to a single candidate.
Though willing to consider the positives of this program, two things made me hesitate. One, leftist individuals and groups support the effort. That’s never a good sign. And two, it’s none of government’s business who does and doesn’t donate to a candidate. I wouldn’t like another voter using my tax money to fund a candidate I don’t support. I’d rather see voters send two dollars of their own money to a candidate than have mommy government take them by the hand to donate money for them.
Reminds me of the collection plate at mass when I was a kid. My mother would give me change to toss into the wicker basket. It may have taught me the physical act of giving, but it didn’t teach me the importance of meaning it. And the only way you can mean it is if it comes out of your own pocket and not out of your neighbors’ pockets.
I’m not settled on the issue. People of a city can vote to do what they want to as long as it doesn’t violate the state or federal constitutions. It just seems beyond a government’s legitimate function for it to hold its residents’ hands so tightly on such a personal decision—especially when city leaders have so many other more important things to do.