Ed Rollins, Visionary?

November 30, 1993|By RUSSELL T. CRAMER

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco. -- Why are they crucifying Ed Rollins?

While most campaigns waste millions on dishonest 30-second spots, Christie Whitman's victorious campaign for governor of New Jersey, managed by Mr. Rollins, allegedly paid blacks not to vote. This could be the first time African-Americans have ever received anything of value from a Republican campaign.

Of course, the hysterical knee-jerk responses of the Eastern liberal media establishment and Democrat spin doctors were predictable. What is harder to fathom is the criticism from Republicans like Bob Dole, Jack Kemp and Mrs. Whitman herself. Do they have any better ideas for negating the black vote?

What was Mr. Rollins' crime? He said the Whitman campaign offered to make contributions to the favorite charities of black ministers who would agree not to preach get-out-the-vote sermons.

What's the problem? Getting paid not to do something is as American as carjacking.

In fact, we should immediately reform election laws to legalize the direct buying of votes and non-votes. With cash incentives to participate or stay home, voters certainly would have a greater interest in the electoral process.

This could lead to bidding wars between the parties. Suppose the Republicans offered you $25 not to vote. Then the Democrats countered with a bid of $50 for your vote. You might wind up with some real money.

Entrepreneurs might set up cartels of citizens whose votes would be marketed as a bloc. For example, a minister could sell the votes (or non-votes) of his entire congregation. A new stock market could be created for investors to buy and sell votes for future elections (like pork-belly futures).

Once all the voters have been paid off, candidates would not have enough money to pay for TV time, thus relieving us from the blight of political advertising.

Instead of attacking Ed Rollins, we should be examining his concept to see if it could have other uses; many applications spring immediately to mind.

We could offer politicians a cash payment if they would retire permanently from public life. The problem with term limits is that politicians will simply run for other offices, thus burdening us with their continuing presence. A one-time cash payment to disappear would rid us of them once and for all.

We could pay illegal aliens to leave the country. Say we offered a brown bag full of cash plus a one-way airline ticket if the individual would agree to stay out of the U.S. for five years. Wouldn't this be less expensive than policing the border? If an alien accepted the payment but returned too soon, he would be executed.

We could pay teen-age girls not to have babies. Suppose we paid each girl $2,500 if she made it through the school year without getting pregnant. This would save the taxpayer from having to pay the medical bills as well as the costs of policing and incarcerating their offspring.

We could provide inner-city teen-age boys with a stipend of $1,000 per month if they do not commit violent crimes. This would be cost-effective by dramatically reducing budgets for police, courts, prisons and executions. And we would all be a lot safer.

Think about it: Should we persecute Ed Rollins? Or should we enshrine him on Mount Rushmore?

Russell T. Cramer is a free lance.

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