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The term originates from the time when politicians mainly traveled by train and gave speeches from the back of the train during “whistle-stops” in small towns.
Recently, the cities of Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Tustin have been the targets of Presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. All the major buzz going on about the Supreme Court Ruling about unfettered funding of elections regarding Citizens United has got the local politicos and bureaucrats rubbing their hands with glee. For Example: The President has a fund raising dinner in Corona del Mar and the City of Newport Beach wants the Obama CRE to fork over $15,000 dollars for added police and emergency security. The President didn’t ask for this of course, but it was nice to watch the 22 folks standing on the corner of Poppy and PCH waving both Pro and Anti Obama signs for two hours. We haven’t heard if the Committee to Re-Elect the President has paid off yet. We do know one thing, now the other local communities and those across the nation are all now jumping on the band wagon. “We got trouble…Right here in River City….and that starts with P and that stands for Presidential Cash!”
Looking back over our years of American history, Whistle Stopping has become a great tradition. Having the sitting President or the Presidential Challenger visit your Community or location has always been a great honor. September of 1960, JFK visited the University of Southern California. This was just a month later than Richard Milhous Nixon. Both visited USC and gave speeches to standing crowds of 20,000 or more situated on the steps of Doheny Library. The President of course had a bunch of Secret Service protection, but those of us in the crowd – never saw it. All we saw, was a bunch of Squires and Knights assigned to watch those of us waving our various signs. We are fairly doubtful that University was paid a fee to pay for police protection or security for these candidates.
They say that over a $Billion dollars will be spent by both candidates in this 2012 Presidential Race. The Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court has now yeilded to something even worse. Going from complete transparency to a complete lock out of who gave the money. The current dysfunctional Congress seems to have totally lost its way. Where is the Campaign Law that states that ” Every campaign contribution shall be posted to the Candidate’s web site within 24 hours of receipt of any contribution over $1000 dollars!”? Where are the clear and defined rules by the Federal Election Commission that says that local communities have the option to add security for any high value candidates (campaigning in their cities, counties or states) – as long as they don’t expect any candidate to the pay. The tradition of Whistle Stopping has been one since the first days of the “Iron Horse” locomotives – that also offered passenger seats and a caboose or dining car to speak off of – at each town or city that was a principal destination!
Originally, “whistle stopping” was a great honor for every community. The modern realities are that now “everyone has their hand out” for any reason. The President, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul or Barney Frank……should not be charged for visiting communities to state their viewpoints, anymore that they should for appearing on Meet the Press or Fox Sunday. Public figures that are involved in representing the citizens of the United States should not be considered just another celebrity paparazzi shoot with Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashsian or Paris Hilton. The realities are, that when high profile folks like Mark Cuban, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Donald Trump come to town…..no one makes them pay for extra security or police protection. The argument could easily be made that they are or were in fact more in danger than the political candidates.
Sadly for cities, counties and states – they are all part of the United States of America. The visits of the President or any candidate for national office is just part of doing business. Did the City of San Clemente charge Richard Nixon because he had the Western White House on it’s shoreline? Does the City of Simi Valley charge the Reagan Library for extra security or police protection whenever a luminary shows up on its steps? Does the City of Yorba Linda charge the Nixon Library every time Huell Houser shows up for book signing? At any rate, let this serve as a thought balloon for our country – let’s keep our traditions in tact!
Whistle Stopping – Who should pay?
Just one final note – Comedian Jonathan Winters did one of the best commentaries on US Elections back in the 60′s.
..the album was called: Whistle Stopping with Jonathan Winters. In our opinion, it is as relevant today as it was then.