Exempt The Internet From McCain/Feingold By Patterico
I am inclined to support the new proposed amendment to McCain/Feingold, exempting the Internet from any regulation whatsoever under campaign finance reform laws.
The language is very straightforward:
Paragraph (22) of section 301 of the Federal Election Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 431(22)) is amended by adding at the end of the following new sentence: “Such term shall not include communications over the Internet.”
You can’t get much simpler than that.
This is far better than begging the FEC for a media exemption (which I have previously opposed), for two reasons.
First, and most important, it is not squishy. Bloggers can heartily endorse candidates, urge readers to contribute to candidates, and engage in other robust political speech. They need not feel chilled in the slightest by the fear that they are crossing some nebulous line separating “legitimate” bloggers from those whom government deems undeserving of the protection of the media exemption.
Second, the amendment will have the force of law, just as McCain/Feingold does. I would much prefer a Supreme Court ruling or constitutional amendment that makes clear that McCain/Feingold is unconstitutional. But I prefer a statutory change to an effort to effect change through the regulatory process, primarily because changes that occur through the political process have a more permanent feel to them.
When I opposed the online petition that begged the FEC for a media exemption, many criticized my bullheaded stance. With all genuine respect to the many fine people who signed the petition, it was, in my view, a genuinely wrongheaded idea – caving to authority at a time when compromise should not have been an option.
But I have some sympathy with the general principle advocated by those critics: that the perfect is the enemy of the good. For the reasons I have stated, I think that principle applies to the current proposed amendment.
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