The Norman Transcript

Opinion

March 13, 2014

Defunding the big shows

NORMAN — There was a time in the not-too-distant past where decisions on presidential nominees were actually made at the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

Every four years, the parties reward the faithful by gathering in a large city under colorful state banners, parties and receptions. The press is courted and television broadcasts the non-stop love fest. The party out of power goes first and the party in power goes last.

The vice presidential choice is usually the most exciting news as primary voting has all but selected the presidential nominee. Delegates pay their own way but there are major costs associated with putting on the big shows. The government would contribute because it supported the electoral process and studies showed a big convention push resulted in larger voter turnout.

Legislation being pushed by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, would remove government funding from the equation. It amounted to $36 million for both parties in 2012, a small part of what it costs to put on the big shows. The two have been pushing the effort to defund conventions for years.

A final version of the bill passed the House this past year and was approved by the U.S. Senate this week. It now goes to President Obama for his signature.

We believe, like Mr. Coburn and Mr. Cole, that the money spent on the big shows could be better spent elsewhere. Under the legislation, the money would be redirected to pediatric disease research.

Host cities and party leaders will have to pick up their fundraising to backfill the government’s funding cut but that won’t likely be a problem for them.

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