UUA Elections thought #1: public financing

Since the newest storm concerns a proposal to radically change the way the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association is elected, I thought some of the unspoken (or less-spoken) issues should be teased apart. I’d love to hear what you have to think.

One meme goes thus: “the UUA presidential race is expensive, and so only rich candidates or good fund-raisers can afford to run.”

That’s not a bad point. The same has been said about civil politics, especially at the national level. So, if that’s really a concern, why aren’t the campaigns of the UUA financed from within the UUA itself? There’s a certain parallel with the church financing of General Assembly candidates — more practiced in the breach; so much more the loss — to see that those without the money can attend and represent their congregations.

Please discuss.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. The UUA system seems to have all the disadvantages of the US national system.

    I could never see myself giving money to a candidate for UU President, that would seem like a waste of my giving to me. And what do they do if they have money left over?

    I would definitely think the UUA should pay for the process, and cut the down somehow. There are very minimal costs we have in the UK for electing the Executive Committee.

  2. Though the idea of the UUA paying for campaigns sounds great and fair in an ideal world, like Stephen said, the UUA may have a hard time to find funding for this program. From a practical standpoint, imagine going to a potential donor and asking them, “would they like to fund the next UUA presidential election?” It would seem to me a hard sell with no immediate return for the donor. (Unlike donors who sponsor a scholarship or youth programs, for example)

    If you take it out of operating expenses other ongoing daily programs may have to be cut especially in this economically challenging time.

    If people would like to get behind this it would seem the best way would be to create a presidential election endowment and use that every four years to pay for the campaigns. Left over money would be reinvested in the endowment for the next election. Of course finding the initial funding might be a challenge.

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