McCain-Feingold: Good For Incumbents, Bad For Freedom
Here’s what I wrote about the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Bill back in June 20th, 2002 while I was slamming the idea of charging broadcasters a fee/tax to pay for free air time for politicians (by the way, these old blogger posts were never archived on the current page just in case you’re were to search for it and wonder where it was)…
“The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Bill was an abomination that I still can’t believe President Bush signed. It was a lousy, unconstitutional bill, that really didn’t do anything but change where the money in politics was going too. Yet we were told this bill was going to “clean up Washington” and “get the money” out of politics. Yes, the American public wasn’t going to have to worry about politicians being influenced by those evil “special interest groups” (i.e. groups of voters trying to get their interests represented) anymore….”
Just as I said back then, this bill didn’t “‘get the money’ out of politics,” it just “change(d) where the money in politics was going too”. Instead of going to the parties, the soft money is now going to those eeeeeevvvvvviiillllll special interest groups that the bill was supposed to stop from influencing our politicians. So even if you guy into the idea that special interest groups shouldn’t be influencing our politicians — which I don’t — what’s the upside supposed to be here? That soft money is flowing into the coffers of special interest groups who’re going to spend it on election campaigns instead of directly into the hands of the political parties who also would have spent it on election campaigns? Who’s spending the money is going to change, but what it’s going to be spent on and who it’s going to benefit isn’t.
Worse yet, by blocking certain types of TV & radio ads that mention federal candidates for two months before an election, McCain-Feingold runs directly counter to the First Amendment. As Justice Scalia pointed out,
“This is a sad day for the freedom of speech. Who could have imagined that the same Court which, within the past four years, has sternly disapproved of restrictions upon such inconsequential forms of expression as virtual child pornography, …tobacco advertising, …dissemination of illegally intercepted communications, …and sexually explicit cable programming, …, would smile with favor upon a law that cuts to the heart of what the First Amendment is meant to protect: the right to criticize the government.”
So if this bill doesn’t get the money out of politics and it’s an assault on the First Amendment, why did it make it into law? Well you see, this law does one thing very; help the people who voted for it hold on to their jobs.
These incumbents already have name recognition and huge money advantages over their challengers. But now, because of McCain-Feingold, the very legislators who voted for this monstrosity will be lying to their constituents in 2004 and telling them that they took “money out of politics” even as their opponents, who already have an uphill battle, will be handicapped by having less of an opportunity to get their message out in the all important last two months when voters really start to pay attention.
That’s why we’re a little less free today than we were before the Supreme Court signed off on this sham folks. So that a bunch of a politicians in Washington can have a little more job security. What a disgrace…