The Farce of Campaign Finance Reform: An Assault on Liberty
by Donald A. Tevault
If you've been keeping up with the news about campaign finance reform, you've already heard about the particulars
of the recently-passed campaign finance reform legislation. You've also heard about what's wrong with this legislation.
Mainly, campaign finance reform as envisioned by the likes of McCain, Feingold, Shays and Meehan is blatantly
unconstitutional. It's an egregious assault on the First Amendment guarantee of free political speech. It's also a
near guarantee that incumbent members of Congress will always be safe from any challengers to their own re-election
efforts. But, as I've said, you've probably already read the details of this legislation, so I won't repeat all of that
here. This does beg the question, though, of how we as a country have gotten to this point. How can Congress get away with
making such a blatant assault on the liberty of United States citizens? After all, wasn't this country founded on the
principles of freedom and liberty? We can find answers by taking a brief look at history.
The Federalists, who advocated a strong central government, also wanted to prevent a return to tyranny. So,
when they designed the Constitution, they included certain safeguards that would protect the citizens' liberty. The
Anti-Federalists, though, were still dismayed. "This will never work", they said. "There simply aren't enough
safeguards for the people's liberty, and the ones that are there won't work."
"Cato", "The Federal Farmer" and several other Anti-Federalist writers feared that there would arise in the land a
class of ruling elites. The "Anti's" warned that these elites--in their attempts to amass power for themselves--would
be willing to violate the Constitutional safeguards, and deprive citizens of liberty. For the most part, the "Anti's"
lost the argument, and the Constitution was ratified. The "Anti's" did, however, succeed in getting a Bill of Rights
added to the Constitution.
It has come to pass, that in this argument at least, the Anti-Federalists were correct. True, in the last few years,
some Congressional candidates ran with the promise that they would voluntarily "term-limit" themselves, and would retire
after only their second or third term. But, those are the rare cases. Indeed, we do have with us a class of arrogant
career politicians--the ruling elite that the "Anti's" feared. Why do you suppose, that so many Congress-folk
advocate welfare state programs, in which money is extorted from the higher wage-earners and given to the lower wage-earners?
Could it be, that these Congress-folk want to buy the votes of the lower wage-earners, who are more numerous than the
higher wage-earners? Why do you suppose that the federal government wants to control public education? Could it be,
that the ruling elites want to prevent our children from learning about the principles of liberty and limited
government, so as to further expand the elites' hold on power? But, I digress.
What we have seen with the campaign finance reform fiasco is an example of arrogant politicians flagrantly violating
the safeguards of the Constitution. Now that President Bush has allowed this campaign finance reform bill to become law, there
will be limits placed on how ordinary citizens like you and me--and any private groups that we may choose to represent
us--can buy advertising before an election. This restriction is tantamount to a restriction on free speech, a clear
violation of the First Amendment. The law would enhance the chances that an incumbent member of Congress would win
re-election; it would help the ruling elite become more firmly entrenched than it now is.
But, if this law is such a clear violation of our rights, then why isn't there more of a public outcry against it?
I believe it's because too many people in this country don't really care about politics, and don't pay enough attention
to what goes on in Washington. Too many people don't understand either politics or basic civics. These people's votes
are based on nebulous ideas of what government should be, on how many goodies the politicians can promise. Folk who are
addicted to the teet of federal largesse aren't going to vote for anyone who believes in limited government. Big
Government politicians, in turn, dole out even more goodies in their efforts to addict more voters to D.C.'s
"compassion". Also, many voters don't understand what their rights are. The "free speech" clause in the First
Amendment--referring to political speech--has been mis-interpreted to mean "free expression". Several years ago,
here in Georgia and down in Florida,
some strip-joint owners went to court to prevent the local governments from closing down their establishments. Their
basis for the court cases? That the local governments were restricting young ladies' rights to "free expression" by
preventing them from dancing nude before crowds of men.
So, these voters--who are satisfied as long as Big Government keeps increasing their hand-outs, who
generally share a very small part of the tax burden and who don't understand the Constitution
--either don't realize or don't care when arrogant politicians
try to grab more power by limiting our legitimate Constitutional rights.
Of course, our esteemed Congress folk are telling the people that this law is desparately needed in order to clean
up corruption. Nothing could be further from the truth, but the elites' myrmidons in the mainstream press will parrot
the line. It'll all sound so soothing to the ill-informed masses of voters.
President Bush could do a great service by speaking out against this legislation. He could use his "bully pulpit"
to help educate Americans on just what is going on. But, so far, he hasn't done that. That's a shame, for he too is
abrogating his responsibility.
Campaign finance law is a constitutional obscenity
Two years ago President Bush, who had called it unconstitutional, signed the McCain-Feingold bill -- furtively, at 8 a.m. in the Oval Office. The law
expanded government restrictions on political speech, ostensibly to combat corruption or the ``appearance'' thereof.
by George Will
The unadvertised effects of campaign reform
The Club for Growth is an innocent name for what many people would regard as a sinister special interest that tries to
affect the decisions of federal lawmakers.
by Steve Chapman
Campaign finance change not 'reform'
Campaign finance reformers have had their way in Washington, which should keep them content--or at least muted--for maybe two years. But what will they attempt when next they announce, as they did this time, that the system
they have created is scandalous and again needs their purifying touch? Events in Arizona suggest an answer.
by George Will
GOP Greases Skids to Sink Campaign Finance Bill
The bill that many House liberals called a Valentine's Day present to the American people may quickly be stamped "return to sender" if it is delivered to President Bush for his signature.
By Jeff Johnson
Americans have been seduced into surrendering their autonomy by an ever-growing federal government, contends Twight,
economics professor at Boise State University. That refrain is hardly new, of course. Ronald Reagan used it to great
effect in his early presidential campaigns. Twight offers a plausible explanation about why politicians like Reagan,
who promise to "shrink" big government, find it so hard to do once in power. In her view, entrenched bureaucrats and
politicians willfully manipulate "political transaction costs" (or the costs of collective action) in an effort to
influence "people's perceptions of the costs and benefits of governmental activities." Stripped of its academic window
dressing, Twight's thesis is straightforward: government insiders actively promote their own public policy initiatives.
In her view, this promotion often takes the form of outright misrepresentation of costs and benefits to the
individual citizen. --Publishers' Weekly
The Moneybags Bill McCain-Feingold will invite more money into politics, not less.
By Arthur F. Fergenson & Mark R. Levin
Third Parties Decry Campaign Finance Bill
Former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader and former Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan criticized the Shays-Meehan campaign
finance legislation Monday, arguing it would infringe on free speech without ending corruption in the system.
By Jim Burns
Perpetuating cynicism, protecting incumbents
As you can expect, Charles Bloomer isn't a fan of campaign finance reform. Plain and simple,
it's an attack on free speech and designed to help the people currently on the Hill to remain there.
St. John's Reform
Will Bush have the courage to veto McCain-Feingold?
Wall Street Journal Op-Ed
David Limbaugh warns of dangers in new campaign-finance bill.
House Passes Campaign Finance Bill
In a major step toward the most dramatic revision of campaign finance law in a generation, the House early Thursday morning passed landmark legislation designed to rid national
politics of unregulated "soft money" and its allegedly nefarious influence.