Grassroot Perspective – Feb. 12, 2003-What Are UEA Members Made Of?; Principles in Practice Elections in an Imperfect World

article top

“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


From the Sutherland Institute in Utah comes this interesting analysis:
What Are UEA Members Made Of?

Sutherland recently obtained court filings in the ongoing paycheck
protection case. In an addendum written by the plaintiffs, we discovered some startling information on Utah Education Association (UEA) membership.

In a 1997 survey conducted for the UEA by Dan Jones & Associates, the following trends were revealed:

Forty-three percent of UEA members identified themselves as being
Republicans; 27 percent identified themselves as being Independents, and only 24 percent identified themselves as being Democrats.

In past elections, 52 percent of UEA members described their past voting as either “Republican” or “lean Republican;” 12 percent described it as “Independent/no preference,” and only 31 percent described it as “Democrat” or “lean Democrat.”

Ninety-two percent of UEA members voted (compared with 66 percent of registered voters generally).

UEA members were asked about the truth of several statements that
“described the UEA.” If they thought the statement was completely true, they would give it a 5. If they thought the statement was completely untrue, they would give it a 1. The “too political” question received a mean score of 3.3.

Using the same scale, the “too liberal” question garnered a score of
2.62. Finally, in 2001, the UEA conducted a survey on its web site of the reasons why new members joined the UEA. The new members were told to “check all” reasons that applied. Only 37 percent checked the box that they “agreed with its goals and purposes.”

In other words, 63 percent of those who joined the UEA were not at all motivated to join because of the goals and purposes of the organization.

Above article is quoted from The Sutherland Institute: The Sutherland Update December 2002, see

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

Principles in Practice Elections in an Imperfect World

By Karen Helland

With the 2002 campaign season fading into blissfully distant memory, and the season of harmony and good will replacing it, perhaps we should imagine elections in a perfect world. In a perfect world, special interests would not pour millions of dollars into hurling dirt at those they oppose. Candidates would not devote endless time to fund-raising and 30-second ad blitzes. Instead, voters would listen attentively to the candidates’ thoughtful, reasoned debate on the issues.

And Christmas lights wouldn’t tangle. And New Year’s resolutions would be kept. And chocolate would be health food.

Distant though all these hopes may seem, proponents of public funding for campaigns seem to think they can achieve election perfection. Public funding of campaigns has already been enacted in several states.

Of course, changes to our electoral system should be measured by how they reinforce representative government, how they protect individual freedom, and whether they live up to their promises of ridding the electoral system of undesirable elements. So is public funding an idea whose time has come, or an idea whose time should never come?

The purpose of elections is representation: keeping government
accountable to us. If government leaders do something bad once they’re in office, we want to be able to get rid of them.

That means protecting incumbents is a bad idea. Proponents of public
funding claim that the main reason incumbents have an advantage is
superior ability to raise money, which will be avoided by having
everyone get the same funding. But there are countless other advantages to incumbency that are not affected by campaign funding.

One is name recognition. People have been reading about the incumbent in the paper for years. They’ve never heard of what’s-her-name, the woman running against him. And people have seen the incumbent get special goodies for them from government; indeed, they’ve read about those goodies in the publicly funded literature he sends from his taxpayer-provided office.

Then there are “constituent services”: taxpayer-paid staff who help
ordinary citizens navigate the complexities of the bureaucracy.
Naturally, citizens are grateful, and they tell their friends and
relations. And they remember at the next election. Funny how it
works-first legislators create massive bureaucracies and difficult
rules, then they earn votes by helping constituents deal with the red

One can’t do much to eliminate these advantages of incumbency-although decreasing available staff might be a good start. But one surefire way to increase the advantages of incumbency
is to restrict how much money a challenger can raise and spend.

Then there’s the question of individual freedom-the end goal of
government, after all. Under a privately funded system, individual people choose which candidates get money and how much. Under a publicly funded-system, these questions are settled by government. Some publicly funded systems try to use voluntary payment-people check off a certain amount when they file their taxes each year. But few people are eager to give money even to candidates they support, much less to a generic fund that might go to anyone. A long-term system for many state-level candidates will require a more stable source of funding. And that means taking money by force from some people to give to support someone else’s political speech-candidates
who may believe the opposite of the “donor.” This is not free speech.

Despite these drawbacks, some would argue that public funding of
campaigns is still worthwhile because it takes money and rancor out of the political process. But money in campaigns is like a river at flood stage — you can dam it up in one place, but it will find a way
through. Limiting the amount of money candidates can spend is likely to increase independent expenditures by special interests that are “technically unconnected” to candidates. If avoiding dirty campaign tricks is our goal, increasing independent expenditures is likely to make things far worse, since independent groups don’t have the concerns a candidate might about the public backlash from negative campaigning.

Another advantage cited to public funding for campaigns is that it
increases the number of contested elections, as candidates from opposing parties run in districts that lean heavily to one party. While it’s satisfying to have more than one candidate to vote for, does it really make sense to spend scarce public resources to fund the campaigns of candidates who couldn’t get elected as dogcatcher?

The current system may not be pretty, but one would be hard pressed to find a campaign system that is. Our immortal founders won election in a system where a primary campaign tactic was providing ample liquid refreshment to voters at the polls. On the other hand, I hear that in a campaign devoid of rancor, special interests, or contested ballots, Saddam Hussein recently won the presidency of Iraq with 100 percent of the vote.

Karen Helland manages Crossroads: Choosing Liberty, EFF’s high school civics program about America’s founding principles.

Above article is quoted from The Evergreen Freedom Foundation Living Liberty December 2002

”Evergreen (Today’s Quote)”

“Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.” — Lord Acton

”’See Web site”’ ”’for further information. Join its efforts at “Nurturing the rights and responsibilities of the individual in a civil society. …” or email or call Grassroot of Hawaii Institute President Richard O. Rowland at or (808) 487-4959.”’