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Tuesday, April 10, 2007 

McCain-Feingold: Still Bad Legislation

I spotted the link to this editorial on Prof. Hasen's Election Law blog. The folks at The Examiner have some harsh words for McCain-Feingold AKA the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act AKA BCRA. The editors recall the stated goal of McCain-Feingold: to get money out of politics. Then they remind us that the 2008 presidential candidates have raised a combined $125 million in the first 3 months of 2007. Just imagine how much of that evil, evil money they'll have by the first primary.

As you can tell by the "evil, evil" bit and my previous posts on the topic, I'm not a big believer in the campaign money = corruption equation. I think it's a little more complex than that. Regardless, let's say that you share the worries of John and Russ. How should you feel about the effectiveness of their pet project legislation? Well, here's the editors...
There is a distinction to be made between "soft" and "hard" money in politics, but the common denominator is the cash, the corrupting influence that McCain-Feingold's backers sought to eliminate. Ever since Bill Clinton found creative new ways to channel foreign money into domestic politics, gathering and collecting from campaign donors has been raised — or lowered — to levels of sophistication and efficiency that would have amazed Boss Tweed. Despite McCain-Feingold, more money is flowing to candidates than ever before in American politics.
This is the pushing of the balloon effect. Push the balloon in one place, and the air will bulge out elsewhere. The "soft" money will get into the election somehow. There are too many clever lawyers, staffers, and lobbyists just sitting around, thinking of ways around BCRA.

If this was McCain-Feingold's only sin, the law wouldn't be that bad. Unfortunately for all of us, it's not...
What McCain-Feingold did accomplish was opening the door for Congress to decide what is acceptable political speech. For the first time in American history, individual citizens cannot join with like-minded others as members of a variety of associations to buy a broadcast spot to criticize an incumbent congressman by name for 60 days prior to the November election. In other words, this terrible law has unleashed the most corrupting influence of all in giving career politicians the power of government to silence their critics. McCain-Feingold must be repealed.

Fortunately for us the internet is providing a way of stripping money out of the campaigning process. Unlike traditional mainstream media, candidates can get their messages out for FREE on the internet. Here's an example:


Plus, instead of hearing only what mainstream media (and other special interest groups with advertising budgets) want us to hear, we can get our information direct from the horses mouth. This will be a very good thing for the cause of democracy. Doesn't mean campaign reform isn't needed, but certainly can help.


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  • I'm Steve
  • From Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
  • "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." P.J. O'Rourke
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