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[P]
Campaign finance reform passes U.S. Senate

By Saxifrage in News
Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 09:46:53 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

After two weeks of debate, and hard work from 1997 to today, from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wisc., the Senate passed their campaign finance reform legislation. The objective of the bill is to ban soft-money contributions to political candidates.

If you're unclear on the background, I'm going to launch into something of a detailed discussion of what I see as the costs and gains of campaign finance reform, but you can get generalized information from ABCNews.


The interesting thing about campaign finance reform is that it's intended to bring political contributions back to their Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) levels, nearly -- the so-called "hard money" contribution ceiling of $1000 is, in the bill, raised to $2000, and soft money contributions, made to a party rather than a candidate, would be outlawed entirely.

The reason this was put in place was ultimately Richard M. Nixon -- in my opinion, probably one of the most effective and yet most evil presidents we ever elected, an anti-Semite, anti-liberal, anti-minority Republican who was not too extreme in his conservatism but yet still evil. Watergate was part of a greater scheme to bring in obscene amounts of money to the Campaign to Re-elect the President (CRP). As a result of what happened during Watergate, limits of $1000 per individual and $5000 per political action committee (PAC) were put in place, for direct contributions to candidates.

Come 2000, and in the general election both Al Gore, former Vice President and Democratic candidate for the presidency, and George W. Bush, now the president and Republican candidate, raised record-setting amounts of money for their campaigns. Why is this a problem?

The best way to put it is to quote Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who said in an editorial in the New York Times on Sunday, 2 April 2001:

One result of McCain-Feingold is certain: America loses. The parties are vital institutions in our democracy, smoothing ideological edges and promoting citizen participation. The two major parties are the big tents where multitudes of individuals and groups with narrow agendas converge to promote candidates and broad philosophies about the role of government in our society.
I think this is particularly relevant, because what I believe McCain and Feingold are doing is exactly what I've always wanted to see. I am a firm believer in the Democratic Party, and I always have been, but I'm not a believer in the two-party system; and here we arrive at the first benefit of campaign finance reform.



The First Benefit

Third parties have in the twentieth century been excluded rather dramatically from the American political process, to the point that there are only a handful of major third-party showings in presidential elections through the entire century: Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, Strom Thurmond in 1948, George Wallace in 1968 and 1972, John Anderson in 1980, and Ross Perot in 1992. Every year, many third-party candidates run for the presidency, and generally they poll less than 3%. Their principal disadvantage is fund-raising -- most of them do not, with the exception of Perot's Reform Party, have fabulously wealthy supporters, as the Republicans and Democrats do, underwriting their campaigns. If campaign finance reform passes, and is signed by President Bush, then it will be a way for the third party candidates, in presidential and other campaigns, to get their feet into the door, in terms of fund-raising, at least.

The First Cost

At the same time, there is a distinct cost that this comes with. If we ban soft-money contributions, then the political parties will have very, very limited resources to work with directly. I'm unclear, given the mixed messages I've been getting, on whether the parties can raise hard money, also, but if so, that means that they will be subjected to a substantial amount less in terms of financing. Unpopular candidates, incumbent or otherwise, will have a lot of difficulty raising money; but is that really a cost, rather than a benefit?

The Second Benefit

As I see it, this bill closes one really, really stupid loophole: Does anyone think it's reasonable to be able to give $1 million, say, or even $100,000, or $10,000, to help candidates out? That means that they count more than I do in having a say in who represents me, because even though I can go out and volunteer to canvass, that $10,000 may buy a commercial that gets ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty times as many people as I can canvass.

The Second Cost

As a follow-up to the First Cost, if we see stronger third parties, we're going to see weakened major parties. That could be detrimental to our political system, as McConnell has a point: They're big tents that we gather people under, in terms of ideology; we have limited splintering, unlike in Europe, of our ideological beliefs. In this country, there are Democrats who are pro-life, contrary to popular belief, and Republicans who are pro-choice, and yet they are able to disagree with their leadership in their party and remain in the party. That may or may not be beneficial -- we've never had, in all our history, more than two major parties, although in the nineteenth century we had a number of candidates who served as representatives from minor parties.

The End Result

I think this is ultimately a win-win situation for Americans, because, as McCain so succinctly put it during his campaign, it's revolting to think that our candidates are bought and sold. Perhaps we'll have to come back in ten years, and nix this -- but, as Franklin Roosevelt told us, so many, many years ago, "It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something."

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Poll
What do you think of campaign finance reform?
o Great 61%
o Terrible 21%
o Bad for parties 7%
o Bad for Democrats 0%
o Bad for Republicans 1%
o Don't care 5%
o Reform? Like it needs fixing! 1%
o Campaigns? What are they again? 0%

Votes: 55
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o from ABCNews
o Sunday, 2 April 2001
o Also by Saxifrage


Display: Sort:
Campaign finance reform passes U.S. Senate | 68 comments (62 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
what can I say? (1.66 / 3) (#1)
by delmoi on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 07:35:47 PM EST

Woohoo!
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
my favorite points (4.25 / 8) (#3)
by Seumas on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 07:42:49 PM EST

I can't count how many times I've seen people (and all democrats so far) on television or in print saying "but finance reform is censorship! they're restricting people's rights to express themselves by supporting their candidates!".

To which the obvious response is "If XYZ person or XYZ corporation has $10,000,000 to dish out to lobbyists and I, as an individual, have about $25, XYZ person/corporation obviously has a lot more free speech than I do."
--
I just read K5 for the articles.

funny (none / 0) (#5)
by alprazolam on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 08:27:08 PM EST

The biggest opponents of it I know are McConnell and DeLay, both republicans. Rather than arguing over which side is least supportive, let's encourage those moderates will support it get it passed, and hope Bush won't veto it.

[ Parent ]
sides (5.00 / 1) (#6)
by Seumas on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 08:30:43 PM EST

Actually, the amusing thing is that the republicans are all for it while they're campaining. So are the democrats. But because the republicans are the ones introducing and pushing the bill, they'll be stuck between passing it and supporting republicans or killing it and looking bad for not supporting it. Catch-22. So they've desperately tried to push the "big lobbyist money is free speech!" idea around the media.

What would be interesting is if it doesn't pass and it's due to lack of republican votes (which wouldn't surprise me at all).
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

whats odd to me (none / 0) (#19)
by alprazolam on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 11:30:12 PM EST

is that in public most want it except for a few outspoken politicians on both sides. but then there's all this support for stuff that will make it not work. which leads me to believe nobody but mccain and feingold actually want it. hows that for some shit. politicians are in touch alright...with the bottom line of their campaign finances.

[ Parent ]
Re: my favorite points (none / 0) (#14)
by Malicose on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 09:35:25 PM EST

To which the obvious response is "If XYZ person or XYZ corporation has $10,000,000 to dish out to lobbyists and I, as an individual, have about $25, XYZ person/corporation obviously has a lot more free speech than I do."
What about the person/corporation owning a newspaper or other media outlet? Reducing everyone's ability to freely communicate to that of the lowest common denominator is ridiculous.

[ Parent ]
Well (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by nebby on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 11:36:02 PM EST

Reducing everyone's ability to communicate to the amount of dollars in their pocket (corporation or individual) goes against everything the government is supposed to be about.


Half-Empty: A global community of thoughts ideas and knowledge.
[ Parent ]

but it's still censorship... (2.00 / 1) (#37)
by bnenning on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 05:17:14 PM EST

To which the obvious response is "If XYZ person or XYZ corporation has $10,000,000 to dish out to lobbyists and I, as an individual, have about $25, XYZ person/corporation obviously has a lot more free speech than I do."

That's a nice soundbite, but it does nothing to explain how this bill is a)not censorship, and b)consistent with the 1st Amendment. If you have more money, you can buy more stuff; that's true of anything, whether it's computers, cars, or advertising. But the fact that I can't afford to buy a printing press or TV station doesn't mean I should be able to censor those who can afford it.

This bill makes expressions of political opinion punishable by law. It's even more blatantly unconstitutional than the CDA was, since the 1st Amendment has consistently been held to give the highest protection to political speech.

[ Parent ]

the (finance != speech) problem... (none / 0) (#46)
by daystar on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 11:50:55 PM EST

A lot of people have brought this up:
I can't count how many times I've seen people (and all democrats so far) on television or in print saying "but finance reform is censorship! they're restricting people's rights to express themselves by supporting their candidates!".

To which the obvious response is "If XYZ person or XYZ corporation has $10,000,000 to dish out to lobbyists and I, as an individual, have about $25, XYZ person/corporation obviously has a lot more free speech than I do."

So we may as well deal with it. Let's look at it from another direction. I think we can all agree that the noises that come out of our mouths generally constitute speech, and are generally protected by the first amendment. Do louder people have more freedom of speech?

Of course not. They have more speech (kinda...), but their freedom and the freedom of tiny-voiced quiet folk are equally protected.

So can we stop using that silly argument?

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

Why not completely eliminate contributions? (3.00 / 3) (#4)
by Lover's Arrival, The on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 08:02:29 PM EST

I think that there is a very good case indeed for completely eliminating financial contributions and making the parties get their money from the taxpayer instead according to a fair and equitable formula.

The advantages of this system would be that the malign influence of corporations and private interests would be removed. Private financial contributions are non-democratic because obviously those people who contribute sums of money can be sure to gain beneficial treatment and 'favours' from an elected administration.

If instead taxpayers funded political parties according to a set formula, and the parties were not allowed to fundraise, a number of things would happen.

  • Firstly, the parties would be forced to consider the wishes of the people exclusively.
  • The smaller minority parties would be on a much more equal footing, and would be able to campaign much more effectively. The two party system leads to a sort of monocultural politics, very insipid without much variety between the two. Resurgant minority parties could enliven political debate and bring in new ideas.
  • Campaigning itself would become more democratic. At the moment parties depend on media campaigns and spin doctors. The campaigns are artificialised by money. The lack of money would mean that campaigns would have a 'back to basics' appeal, and the parties would have to consider substance more than spin, especially in the light of a more valid third party challenge.
I am sure that there are other advantages, too. I think that this system of party funding could work very well in America, because the institutions here are sound, it is just the loyalties of politicians that are suspect. At the moment they appear to be loyal to the people yes, but also loyal to corporations and Big Money, which is self evidently very dangerous. A system of state funded political parties could be just the ticket, but I must stress that I am hardly an expert being a recent immigrant and not very well versed in these things anyway. Thanks for reading.

--Anticipation of a New Lover's Arrival, The

Sorry, I think this is a Bad Idea (5.00 / 2) (#13)
by crossetj on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 09:30:03 PM EST

  1. Who decides what is a party?
    1. Number of supporters?
      • How do you get up to this critical number without advertising?
      • If you and I decide to start a new political party should the government (read competeing political parties) be able to tell us we can't spend our own money on printing flyers to attract people to our rally?
    2. Ideolology?
      • "Unpopular" ideas have the right to be expressed too. Free speech doesn't just apply to what the people in power believe.
  2. Your tax money going to parties you vehemently oppose. Image how the "average" K5'r would feel supporting the "Party For the Elimination of the Bill of Rights and Mandatory Slavery for All People with a Net Worth Less than $100,000,000" or some such.
  3. What is the formula for dividing up the money?
    1. Number of votes in the last election?
      • How does this help new parties?
    2. Everyone gets equal money?
      • Does the Socialist Party, who would have trouble electing a dog catcher in most of the country "deserve" as much money as the Democratic Party who can at least claim some sort of voter base in almost the entire county?
  4. Independent Candidates - Yes there still is such a thing.

And this is just off the top of my head. I could come up with more reasons if pressed or if these are not enough for you. In fact, I could probably take any one of these points and turn it into a couple thousand word essay. The whole idea smacks me as "Un-American" - it perverts the individuals freedom of choice.
Note: I'm "Un-American" myself so I don't really get a say in the decision process. Citizen and resident of Canda.

[ Parent ]
Instead of eliminate, How about redistribute (none / 0) (#58)
by dodson on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 11:24:39 AM EST

My wife was shocked when I pointed out that there was a quarter billion spent on the presidential election. She said something to the effect of why not donate the money to AIDs research.

I riffed on it a bit and here's my thought.

Give all the money gathered to charities.

A candidate who did this would generate lots of free television coverage as well as organizational support from the organizations they contribute to.

They could use the charities they contribute to illustrate what their platform is.

I think at the least the first politician to try this would almost certainly win a landslide victory.

Of course I don't know if it is legal, it may appear to be bribery.

I think a candidate would generate record amounts of contributions if people felt they might be getting a rebate on their money.




[ Parent ]
third parties (3.33 / 3) (#7)
by mami on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 08:34:47 PM EST

I don't understand the argument that the existence of a third party would weaken the major two parties. It works in other countries. The third party builds a coalition with one of the two major parites to gain majority. This way extreme policies to left and right are mellowed by the third party coalition partner.

There must be something else in your constitution and electoral college system which makes third party creation almost impossible in this country. I am not sure what it is. But there must be more to it than just the way your parties and campaigns are financed.

third parties and winner-take-all (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by Delirium on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 09:52:57 PM EST

While this (the coalition-building) is true for Congress, as the third-party could team with one of the two larger ones to pass bills, a large part of the political system is devoted to the process of actually getting elected. Except in the unlikely event where the third party did not field a candidate in a ballot, supporting one of the two major parties' candidates instead, what basically happens is the third party's candidate takes votes from the major party candidate he's idealogically closest to (i.e. Perot took what would've likely been Bush votes in 1992; the same thing works with elections for lower offices). So for example, having a larger liberal third-party would tend to hurt the liberals' chances of being elected and thus weaken the left as a whole (since if there are 40% Republicans, 35% Democrats, and 25% third-party, the Republican candidate gets elected). Switch to a conservative third-party and you get the same result in the other direction.

[ Parent ]
"Vote Stealing" (none / 0) (#29)
by guinsu on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 12:29:04 PM EST

I disagree with this concept that third party candidates "steal votes", that implies that the 3rd party is not entitled to those votes and that the 2 party system is the only natural and correct way to run things. If anything the major parties "steal" from the 3rd parties. Look at the last election in the US, many people who wouldhave voted for Nader didn't because they chose to vote for Gore in hopes of keeping Bush out of the oval office. People don't vote for who they really want, just for the lesser of two evils

[ Parent ]
The voting system is the problem (none / 0) (#31)
by Pseudonym on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 12:42:22 PM EST

If the voting system requires some voter to vote "strategically" in order to support some outcome (as opposed to "honestly"), then the voting system is to blame. Those in the major parties who complained about "Nader trading" last year either don't comprehend this, or don't want to admit it publically to preserve the two party system. (I tend to assume stupidity rather than evil when it comes to politicians, but that's just me.)

In this case, the problem is that the system is not monotonic. One of the features of a monotonic voting system is that vote splits can't happen. A simple but quite practical example is "approval voting". Instead of putting for only one candidate, vote for as many as you like. The person with the highest number of votes wins. It's simple to use, easy to understand and it gives voters a much more expressive vote. A Nader supporter can vote for both Nader and Gore, and don't have to worry about Bush getting in on split votes.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
divided factions (none / 0) (#36)
by Delirium on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 05:11:32 PM EST

I wasn't speaking of any sort of moral obligations; it certainly isn't "wrong" to vote for a 3rd-party. I was merely discussing the practical implications of third parties. If there are two main ideological factions of roughly equal size, and one faction runs one candidate while the other faction runs two candidates (for example, if there are two left-leaning candidates and one right-leaning one), the united faction is likely to win.

[ Parent ]
Sorry... (none / 0) (#47)
by guinsu on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:54:16 AM EST

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to go off. Its just that the mainstream media do associate a negative connotation to "stealing votes", and it always bugged me. So I made it my personal crusade to correct that sort of thing when I can. oops.

[ Parent ]
Which is why... (none / 0) (#32)
by sab39 on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 12:43:34 PM EST

We need a better electoral system than the current Plurality system. There seems to be a lot of support for Immediate Runoff Voting (IRV) but mathematical research shows it has a number of flaws, including some brand new ones that even Plurality doesn't have.

Mathematically, it seems that something based on Concordet is probably the fairest system, but I can't believe that any system based on having to rank every candidate compared to each other could ever be presented simply enough on a ballot - especially after the Florida fiasco.

My personal vote goes to Approval voting, which works exactly like the current system except that everyone can vote for as many (different) parties as they want. This has the advantage that given four parties - far left, center left, center right and far right - people on the left/right can vote for *both* left/right-wing parties, people in the center can vote for both center parties, and the "both the major parties are evil" contingent can vote for both the extremes.

It doesn't violate "one person, one vote" as some people have claimed because the amount of "influence" one person has is still exactly the same... you would think that having 4 votes would mean more influence than having one, but since you can't use them all on the same person it's worthless: a vote for all four parties is exactly equivalent to a vote for no parties at all!

And as a fringe benefit, notice the effect it would have had on the infamous "butterfly" ballots in Florida: people who inadvertantly voted for both Gore and Buchanan would still have their vote for Gore counted! The only possible problem would have been if Buchanan had stood a chance of being elected - but if it had been (say) Bush in that place on the ballot you can bet that people would have been a lot more careful about not voting for him...

For more information about voting methods see here or here (the latter is a site advocating a particular method so it only includes the criteria that particular method does well on, but it is a good general introduction).

Stuart.


--
"Forty-two" -- Deep Thought
"Quinze" -- Amélie

[ Parent ]
Approval voting (none / 0) (#34)
by KnightStalker on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 01:02:14 PM EST

I agree, approval voting is the best system. Discover also did an article on it and other voting methods a few months back.

[ Parent ]
Re: third parties (2.50 / 2) (#24)
by eLuddite on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 01:40:42 AM EST

The only way for a 3rd party to mount a realistic challenge is for the senate to pass equal time legislation. Campaign finance reform is a nice gesture but I fail to see how it will do anything other than divert soft donations into additional hard ones. The next election will still be fought by two enormously wealthy, nearly identical parties.

Honestly, what is the problem with selling the presidency? If you sell the electorate slick propaganda campaigns on the tube and they buy it with their votes, it seems highly democratic to me that they get whatever they deserve. If you'd rather vote on merit and issues, ensure balanced campaign coverage.

I'm no fan of the man but I thought it a highly capricious abuse of your system when Nader couldn't even get into the debates. Your networks consistently treated the man as a footnote in their coverage.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Too early to celebrate (2.00 / 1) (#11)
by RangerBob on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 09:06:57 PM EST

It still has to go through the US House, where it will have one heck of a fight compared to the Senate. Then, it's gotta be signed by W, who was bought during the campaign and is now paying back everyone that gave him lots and lots of money.

Companies have been buying candidates for many years now, and this bill has an uphill fight I'm afraid. I'd get excited about it this year, but I also find that I'm becomming extremely cynical as I approach 30.

Um... (2.00 / 1) (#22)
by KnightStalker on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 12:24:01 AM EST

Unless everything I know is wrong (entirely likely) bills go through the House first, then the Senate, then are appended to and go back to the House for reapproval, ad nauseam. This bill only needs to pass W's desk.

[ Parent ]
<disposition duncecap="on" location=& (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by KnightStalker on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 12:44:53 AM EST

Never mind. This bill originated in the Senate, so everything I know *is* wrong. I'll just go back to ranting privately now...

[ Parent ]
How a Bill becomes a Law (3.50 / 2) (#48)
by PresJPolk on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 02:44:23 AM EST

The Constitution requires that spending bills originate from the House. Other bills can start on either side of the Congress.

If each house passes the same bill, it goes to the President. If they pass differing bills, a conference committee is formed, with members of both houses. Then both houses vote on what the conference committee reports, and that bill goes on, or not, to the President.

McCain's vision won't ever get anywhere for that reason. In the House, Speaker Hastert and company will do everything they can to make sure that the House passes something different, if it passes anything at all. Then when the conference committee meets, guess who gets to appoint the Republican members of the committee? You guessed it, McCain/Feingold opponents Trent Lott and Dennis Hastert.

So, in the end, McCain's vision can't reach the President, and the beauty of the US Constitution's separation of powers shines once again.

[ Parent ]
Hook, Line and Sinker (2.83 / 6) (#12)
by Bad Harmony on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 09:26:18 PM EST

I am amazed at how many people think this is a good bill. It should have been named the Incumbent Protection Act of 2001. What can most Senators agree upon? Making it easier and cheaper to get reelected. I watched some of the debate on C-SPAN and it was like watching hogs at a trough. TV commercial time too expensive? Let's mandate special cheap rates for campaign ads!

54º40' or Fight!

Why is cheaper bad? (3.33 / 3) (#18)
by apm on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 10:50:57 PM EST

Sure, it will make it cheaper to get re-elected. But it will also be cheaper to challenge an incumbent, so I don't see any net advantage to those already in office. And if they do stay in office, it won't have to be because of huge contributions from the big industries at the same time they're making decisions that affect those industries. The whole system of financing campaigns reeks of corruption. I think this is a step in the right direction.

[ Parent ]
the incumbent's advantage (3.00 / 1) (#38)
by bnenning on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 05:27:35 PM EST

is that by virute of already holding office, he gets a huge amount of free publicity from his position and from the media. This is also why most of the media supports this bill; it greatly increases their relative influence by weakening advocacy groups.

If we want a real solution to corruption, we could try limiting the government to its legitimate Constitutional functions, so that there would be no motivation to lobby/bribe lawmakers. But oddly enough few people in government seem to be interested in solutions that reduce the power of government.

[ Parent ]

I agree partly (none / 0) (#40)
by apm on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 06:06:28 PM EST

I think you're right about the free publicity for the incumbents. That's a good point. But that publicity can be positive as well as negative, so I'm not sure it's all that big of a help to the incumbents. Representatives frequently get turned out of office for casting unpopular votes that the media publicizes.

However, I strongly disagree with your solution to the campaign finance problem. To start with, I believe that the government serves many useful purposes that I would not like to see eliminated (such as environmental protection, to name one politically charged example). But even so, eliminating the vast majority of government functions just to get rid of influence is an overreaction, and wouldn't work anyway. Regardless of what issue you're talking about, you can find groups willing to spend millions of dollars to lobby for their particular viewpoint.

I find a couple provisions of McCain-Feingold troubling. I think increasing the hard money limits may only make the problem worse, and I'm concerned that the issue ad ban could stifle free speech in some cases. But I think overall the bill is a step in the right direction, to get the big corporate lobbyists out of Washington.

[ Parent ]

Urban ledgends.... (2.00 / 1) (#21)
by daystar on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 12:00:56 AM EST

You all know in your hearts that politicians are bought by the Evil Multi National Corporations.

I don't think it's true. Prove it.

And while your at it, show a correlation between campaign contributions and success on election day.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.

So why oppose CFR? (none / 0) (#25)
by DesiredUsername on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 08:27:15 AM EST

"And while your at it, show a correlation between campaign contributions and success on election day."

Let's assume there IS a correlation. Then we wouldn't want Big Donors unduly swinging the election, would we? Vote for CFR.

Alternatively, suppose there ISN'T a correlation. Then why fight to let Big Donors write Big Checks? Don't vote against CFR.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
So there's no REASON... (none / 0) (#26)
by daystar on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 08:55:43 AM EST

.. you just don't like "big donors"? Seems like a pretty weak reason to have the government regulate political speech.

There is no correlation.

There is no evidence that politicians are regularly bribed with campaign donations.

It is exactly as rational as restricting freedom of religon because it would be unfair for political parties to have their God give them the election.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

So why donate? (none / 0) (#27)
by DesiredUsername on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 09:29:13 AM EST

"There is no correlation. There is no evidence that politicians are regularly bribed with campaign donations."

Nonetheless, the fact remains that big donations have been made. If it isn't to influence the outcome, what's the purpose?

And who said anything about bribery? It matters not a bit whether the candidate is corrupt, what matters is who he represents.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Wow.... (none / 0) (#28)
by daystar on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 09:58:03 AM EST

I really thought someone was going to come up with a REASON for campaign finance reform. Your approach of outlawing everything that you don't think is nessesary, whether you can show a harm or not is... refreshingly simplistic.

I think that americans should be free by default. If you want to go limiting our freedom, you need a good reason. "Why not?" doesn't cut it.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

Haven't checked these numbers myself. (none / 0) (#30)
by KnightStalker on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 12:37:55 PM EST

Here's some evidence of the correlation-proves-causation variety: http://www.billionairesforbushorgore.com. Look for the "Return on Investment" and "66 Smart Billionaires" links under "Candidate Price/Performance Analysis" (it's a framed site, or I'd link there directly.) Elsewhere on the site is a claim that in 1998, winning Senate candidates spent an average of $5.2 million compared to $2.8 million by the losers, though there is no source given.

[ Parent ]
Billionaires for bush/gore.. (none / 0) (#44)
by daystar on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 09:55:27 PM EST

While I am the first person to agree that there's very little difference between the democratic and republican parties, this whining about the disparity between the rich and poor seems a little odd. After all, the poor in america are richer than they've ever been in history. What, is there some cosmic injustice in some people making a lot MORE? I figure that if everyone's lot is improving, who cares about the gap?

And still noone can come up with a reason why they believe that campaign finance reform is nessesary.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

Filthy Lucre (none / 0) (#33)
by Rand Race on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 12:48:22 PM EST

"I don't think it's true. Prove it."

I think it is true. Prove it's not. And let me borrow your mind-reading machine when you are done with it.

"And while your at it, show a correlation between campaign contributions and success on election day."

The two major parties raised the vast majority of money (~97%) and won the vast majority of seats (~99.9%) in the 2000 federal elections. Sure the guy who raises $500k might lose to the guy who raises $400k but the guy who raises $10k will lose every time.

If money is speech then why can't I attempt to "talk" my way out of a speeding ticket with a c-note? So do rich people also get more freedom of religion? More freedom of association? More freedom from unwarranted searches? Well yes, they do. But is it right?


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

Now that's just pathetic... (none / 0) (#45)
by daystar on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 10:51:43 PM EST

"I don't think it's true. Prove it."

I think it is true. Prove it's not. And let me borrow your mind-reading machine when you are done with it.

Sorry, man. Logic doesn't work that way. If you believe something, you should generally be expected to have a reason. In fact, the "corruption" in todays american politics is as real as horns on jews: it's a silly superstition and you do not know why you believe in it.

Rich people don't have more freedom to distribute their money than you. They just have more money. You're promoting the idea that people should not have the freedom to do what they want with their money (in a specific, arbitrary context), but you don't have any reason for it. I think that if you want to restrict people's freedom to do something, you need to have a reason. I don't have the freedom to shoot bullets in your general direction, because that would interfere with YOUR rights. That's good.

Now apply the same logic to campaign finance. I should not have the right to support causes I believe in because....

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

Graft is graft (none / 0) (#53)
by Rand Race on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 05:39:04 PM EST

OK, my point was that proof is not to be had in this situation. From what I see and read I have come to the conclusion, from admittedly circumstantial evidence, that our politicians represent the interests of their major donors before they represent the interests of their constituancy.

And, of course, I note that your belief in the sanctity of our elected officials rests on just as little "proof" as my belief in their perfidity.

"Rich people don't have more freedom to distribute their money than you. They just have more money. You're promoting the idea that people should not have the freedom to do what they want with their money (in a specific, arbitrary context), but you don't have any reason for it."

So I am perfectly free to talk my way out of speeding tickets with $100 bills? No of course not, try again.

"Now apply the same logic to campaign finance. I should not have the right to support causes I believe in because...."

.... your idea of support matches exactly my idea of bribery. I have the right to be represented by my elected official, your paying him to represent you infringes on the most basic right a citizen in a democracy posseses; the right to representation. Just as the general populace has a right to expect reasonable safety on the roadways trumps my right to grease the palms of cops.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

So we agree that there's... (none / 0) (#55)
by daystar on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 12:16:07 AM EST

.. no problem that either of us can percieve. Ummm, good. My theory is that when you have no existing problem, you don't take away people's rights "just in case". Maybe I'm just more cautious than you. To each his own.

... your idea of support matches exactly my idea of bribery. I have the right to be represented by my elected official, your paying him to represent you infringes on the most basic right a citizen in a democracy posseses; the right to representation. Just as the general populace has a right to expect reasonable safety on the roadways trumps my right to grease the palms of cops.
Leaving alone for a moment that point that you have no reason to believe that your elected representatives are doing anything but representing the people who elected them...

Bribes ("money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust" (m-w.com)) are one thing. We can discuss them in another context. The current campaign finance jihad is centered around "soft money". That's money that is NOT given to the actual candidate. If you contribute money to your political party of choice, then John McCain thinks you are a threat to democracy. If you spend your money to buy television advertisements saying "Don't vote for republican/democrats... Vote Leninist!" (or whatever it is you believe in...), then you are destroying our electoral process. Does that really make sense to you?

Just as a side note, I've got to apreciate the irony of ME sitting here saying that we can trust our elected representatives. John McCain is MY senator! Don't get me wrong, *I* wouldn't vote for him if my life depended on it, but I've got to admit, he does the (terrifying socialist) things that he says he's gonna do.

So I am perfectly free to talk my way out of speeding tickets with $100 bills? No of course not, try again.
Ah yes, the "meat" of your argument. America tends to recognize most forms of non-violent expression as "speech" (flag-burning, pornography, uh... political advertisements :)). This does not mean that these things Are Speech. It means that they have the same constitutional protections with speech (more or less). There are a number of contexts in which speech can be prohibited. Threats... shouting fire in a theater.. you know. There are a number of contexts in which it's illegal to trade money for certain things (sex... certain drugs... bribery...). This does not mean that commerce is not protected by our laws, it just means that (ready?): There was a REASON to limit these situations.

You've got no such reason.

Bribery is already illegal. If the current laws don't stop it, how can you expect MORE laws to matter?

And my primary point in any political debate: If government didn't control so much money, then it wouldn't MATTER what our representatives did. Taxation is theft. Live free or die... etc etc libertarian silliness...

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

Let's call a bribe a bribe (none / 0) (#56)
by Rand Race on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 09:16:43 AM EST

".. no problem that either of us can percieve. Ummm, good. My theory is that when you have no existing problem, you don't take away people's rights "just in case". Maybe I'm just more cautious than you. To each his own."

Prove, not perceive. My theory is that you don't give more rights to one group than another just for some naive political philosophy that is directly countered by the constitution ("congress shall have the power... to regulate commerce...")

"Leaving alone for a moment that point that you have no reason to believe that your elected representatives are doing anything but representing the people who elected them..."

Are you holding your fingers in your ears and shouting "LALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU"? I have plenty of reason to beleive what I do. For example: The DMCA represents the interests of the recording industry while trampling the rights of the people. The RIAA gave much much money to both political parties. Circumstantial sure, but reason none the less.

"Bribes ("money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust" (m-w.com)) are one thing. We can discuss them in another context. The current campaign finance jihad is centered around "soft money". That's money that is NOT given to the actual candidate. "

Mirriam Webster aside, I consider organizations in a position of trust to be just as suceptable to graft as individuals. Not that the "current jihad" by those who are the guilty is of any consequence anyhow.

"If you contribute money to your political party of choice, then John McCain thinks you are a threat to democracy. If you spend your money to buy television advertisements saying "Don't vote for republican/democrats... Vote Leninist!" (or whatever it is you believe in...), then you are destroying our electoral process. Does that really make sense to you?"

I was not debating the McCain-Feingold bill, which I consider an inefetual sop. The problem with your example is the cost of advertising time limits such speach to wealthy individuals and organizations. Still I have less problem with such activities than I do with simply giving a party a few million dollars with an implicit wink and nudge. Your example is someone spending their money to make their point to the public while the problem is people giving money to the politician or party in order for them to make their (the pol or party) point to the public in return for concessions to the donater.

"Just as a side note, I've got to apreciate the irony of ME sitting here saying that we can trust our elected representatives. John McCain is MY senator! Don't get me wrong, *I* wouldn't vote for him if my life depended on it, but I've got to admit, he does the (terrifying socialist) things that he says he's gonna do."

As a socialist I find that remark absolutely hillarious. That you consider McCain to be terribly socialist while I consider him to be nothing even close to socialist is telling. He does follow through on his pledges though.

"Ah yes, the "meat" of your argument. America tends to recognize most forms of non-violent expression as "speech" (flag-burning, pornography, uh... political advertisements :)). This does not mean that these things Are Speech. It means that they have the same constitutional protections with speech (more or less). There are a number of contexts in which speech can be prohibited. Threats... shouting fire in a theater.. you know. There are a number of contexts in which it's illegal to trade money for certain things (sex... certain drugs... bribery...). This does not mean that commerce is not protected by our laws, it just means that (ready?): There was a REASON to limit these situations."

You have a basic misunderstanding of the freedoms you mention. You are perfectly free to say anything you want to but you are responsible for the effects such speech has. Yelling fire in a theatre is not prohibited (what would you do if there was a fire?) but reckless endangerment, inciting a riot and such are. It is illegal to trade anything for the things you mention. And then comes REASON...

"You've got no such reason."

Yes I do. I do not consider my representatives to be representing their constituancy.

"Bribery is already illegal. If the current laws don't stop it, how can you expect MORE laws to matter?"

I don't necesarily want more laws, I'd just like to see the ones we have enforced. It's a semantic thing, just start calling more political donations bribes.

"And my primary point in any political debate: If government didn't control so much money, then it wouldn't MATTER what our representatives did. Taxation is theft. Live free or die... etc etc libertarian silliness..."

Can't argue with that last part. Can't make heads nor tails of the first part. Your primary point supports anarchy (if they don't matter why have them?) which I'm all right with, but I do not think that the vast majority of people in this country (or any other) are capable of living in an anarchic society.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

I'll just spin out of control here... (none / 0) (#57)
by daystar on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 10:08:47 AM EST

There's really no point in discussing campaign finance reform. Out disagreements run deep enough that by the time we get to something that specific, there's no chance of agreement. Let me make a few peripheral points that you should feel free to ignore :)

I'm pretty sure that your problem with our current government is that they don't represent YOU. And you're right, they don't. You believe in a government-run economy. The VAST majority of americans disagree with you. Of course, I'm a libertarian, and noone agrees with me, either. This doesn't mean that democracy has failed, just that we hold unpopular views. Where's the tragedy here?

As for socialism itself, well, you know all of the arguments against it, there's no point in rehashing them here, but I would like to point out that 1) You believe that the people in power are fundamentally untrustworthy and 2) You want to invest more power in them. That seems like a funny combination to me. My arguments is that the less government does, the less we need to be concerned about it. You seem devoted to a path of increasing paranoia and regulation, with no possible relief. Seems kinda depressing. Maybe you should find a Maggie and stay away from politics, Rand. You're making yourself miserable.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

Spin, spun, span (none / 0) (#59)
by Rand Race on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 11:55:34 AM EST

Yes it's obvious we can't have a meaningfull dialouge since it seems we just don't quite grok each other's position.

I'll just say that overall I want less power in the hands of the government, economicly though I believe the government should be more active in some areas. Legislation should not be part of the free market (neither should several other things but that's beside the point).

Oh well. To change the subject: I am amazed at how many people here can place my nickname. I've never before been in an online (or offline) community that has been so aware of cool old underground comix. Oh, and I've got my Maggie and am not particularly miserable. Argumentiveness (and socialism for that matter) tends to run in my family, we view it as a sort of passtime. You should meet my dad, that old wobbly communist will argue any point any one can make about anything (and makes my socialist views sound like John Birch propaganda). Pedantry must be genetic ;)


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

Socialist families... (none / 0) (#64)
by daystar on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 12:29:09 AM EST

Yeah, it runs in my family, too. Fortunately, I was able to recognize that it had never improved ANY of their lives, so I ditched it for the tired, failed fanaticism that it is. Now I've got a Fresh New Fanaticism and my life is happier and my job pays better. Whoo-hoo!

As for the collected k5 L&R awareness, that's interesting, since I don't recall a lot of underground comic related stories being posted. Huh. Go figure.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

A bribe in a different form (none / 0) (#61)
by Eccles on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 05:28:25 PM EST

The current campaign finance jihad is centered around "soft money". That's money that is NOT given to the actual candidate.

But it *is* given to help the candidate try to get something he or she wants. Giving me $100 is bad, but giving $100,000 to my party so I can keep the position of power I want, and then retire to an even more lucrative position, isn't?

The objective of campaign finance reform is to keep the quid from being sufficient for a direct pro quo.

[ Parent ]

If you expand the definition.... (none / 0) (#63)
by daystar on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 11:56:08 PM EST

... of bribery to the point where someone does not even have to KNOW about the money to be guilty, then I have to question your goals.

I think the traditional definition of quid pro quo oughta do just fine. I am not aware of anyone in modern politics who changes their position in response to donations. Neither are you.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

Contributions (none / 0) (#60)
by Eccles on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 05:23:56 PM EST

And while your at it, show a correlation between campaign contributions and success on election day.

Indeed. That's why political candidates spend so little time and energy fundraising.

'Scuse me for a moment, my sarcasm detector just overheated...

[ Parent ]

Hey, neat.... (none / 0) (#62)
by daystar on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 11:50:47 PM EST

... you mind if I use that argument to prove that astrology is "real"? After all, if someone believes in it, then it MUST be real...

You fear corruption that you can not detect.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

Get a clue maybe? (none / 0) (#65)
by Eccles on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 09:52:13 AM EST

... you mind if I use that argument to prove that astrology is "real"?

Let's see, the claims of astrology are counted by evidence from the finest scientific minds of the last few hundred years. The widely accepted assertion that money helps get people elected is countered without evidence by ... you.

Why am I not impressed?

[ Parent ]

I'll just rephrase the question: (none / 0) (#66)
by daystar on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 10:39:16 AM EST

Show me evidence that campaign contributions (hard OR soft) can "buy" an election.

If you can't do that, why do you think that campaign financing is a problem? I think you've been taken in by superstition.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

Money and politics (none / 0) (#67)
by Eccles on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 11:41:53 AM EST

Show me evidence that campaign contributions (hard OR soft) can "buy" an election.

Well if it doesn't, then this bill is just saving people from wasting their money.

As for proving the value of money in winning elections (it's not a 100% guarantee by any means, I agree, but that's not the claim), like I said, there's hundreds of years of proof of the effectiveness of propoganda of all sorts. And even if there wasn't, the fact that politicians spend so much time fundraising is proof that they believe it works. Thus, even if your claim was correct, the politicians would still believe money helps keep them in their jobs, and thus they feel some form of indebtedness to those who got them there.

[ Parent ]

Which can only matter... (none / 0) (#68)
by daystar on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 11:33:17 PM EST

.. if said politicians are betraying the people who elected them. I do not see evidence of this. Sure, Bush got a lot of contributions from oil companies, but that's not bribery, that's oil companies supporting a candidate that's idealistically aligned with them.

At any rate, you're clearly willing to trample on free political expression so that you can force people to "save money". That would be funny, except that, inexplicably, a lot of people agree with you. Noone can prove there's a problem, or even POINT to a POSSIBLE problem, but everyone knows that there's just TOO MUCH FREEDOM in this country.

Terrifying.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

Serious question (none / 0) (#35)
by Nafai on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 03:47:48 PM EST

In general, I support campaign finance reform. It's obviously a bad thing when companies can buy politicians with campaign contributions.

Here is my issue. What happens if I want to help out a local political candidate by purchasing a radio ad with my own money? Or set up a web site with my own money? Would a ban on soft money make these illegal acts?

To me, it seems this really could be considered a restriction on free speach.

If I'm wrong, I welcome some information on precisely what "banning soft money" means...

Soft money (none / 0) (#41)
by apm on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 06:15:42 PM EST

Banning soft money means that you are no longer allowed to donate arbitrarily large amounts of money to the political parties themselves. It has nothing to do with your ability to set up a web site or buy a radio ad. However, one provision of the bill bans so-called "issue ads" mentioning a candidate by name for 60 days before the election. This could pose a problem for you buying a radio ad, but I think you would still be allowed to setup a website. The free speech implications of this are a little concerning, and I'm not sure that part will stand up in court, but banning soft money itself won't affect you unless you routinely donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to the major parties.

[ Parent ]
Actually... (none / 0) (#52)
by spraints on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 03:38:19 PM EST

The bill includes language that says that any attempt by an individual to support any Federal candidate, directly or indirectly, is subject to campaign finance law. So if Nafai sets up a website and puts up billboards, and the total aggregate expended amount exceeds whatever limit is in the bill (1000$, IIRC), then Nafai must report it to the FEC. If he believes that robots are evil, and puts up an "Anti-Robot" website, and mentions on his site that Joe Candidate feels the same way, and he's set up a dedicated server to host this site, and buys a couple newspaper ads, then chances are that he's going to be regulated.

What I'm not really sure about is what types of regulations these reported activities and expenditures are subject to. My main point was that the bill does quite specifically address any "electioneering communication" by anybody (except, as explicitly excluded, the media). So this means that if the media suddenly got a Pro-Robot bent (for whatever reason--monetary, philosophical, etc), then they could trash Joe Candidate all they want and nobody can point out that Bob Cyborg is quite evil (once the hard money limits have been met).



[ Parent ]
Reform is a four-letter word (none / 0) (#39)
by Robert Hutchinson on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 06:02:09 PM EST

Campaign finance is speech. There was a CFR amendment introduced in the Senate that would've specifically made an exception to the 1st Amendment for CFR. Almost half of the Senate voted for it. That means almost half of the Senate KNOWS that CFR is speech restriction (or perhaps they're dishonest voters).

Tax-funded politics is incredibly evil, wrong, and misguided. Those who don't wish to fund politics are forced to do so. The people in charge of spending the taxes are the incumbents. Political parties, instead of raising money based on the support of freely choosing individuals, get money based on artificial judgments.

Campaign finance reform is entirely wrongheaded. The argument is "politicians are paid money to hand out favors, so let's stop them from being paid money." Does it really take that much intensive thought to suggest that perhaps we should be stopping them from handing out favors? Does it take a leap of faith to consider that perhaps the Republicans and Democrats pushing this legislation just might be cementing their and their parties' positions in government, while simultaneously diverting the public's attention from the true font of corruption? I swear, arguments for CFR make about as much sense as arguments for gun bans.

Robert Hutchinson
No bomb-throwing required.

No! (none / 0) (#42)
by apm on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 06:25:32 PM EST

Reform is a four-letter word

Those sound like the words of a right-wing reactionary...

There was a CFR amendment introduced in the Senate that would've specifically made an exception to the 1st Amendment for CFR. Almost half of the Senate voted for it. That means almost half of the Senate KNOWS that CFR is speech restriction (or perhaps they're dishonest voters).

No, more precisely the amendment was introduced to challenge a Supreme Court decision in 1976 that struck down a few portions of the previous campaign finance legislation. The amendment only indicates that the Senate thinks the Supreme Court was wrong, not that they view CFR as a violation of the First Amendment. Surely you don't think that the Supreme Court has always been right?

Tax-funded politics is incredibly evil, wrong, and misguided. Those who don't wish to fund politics are forced to do so. The people in charge of spending the taxes are the incumbents. Political parties, instead of raising money based on the support of freely choosing individuals, get money based on artificial judgments.

I disagree. I think taxpayer-funded politics would be far more fair than wealthy-individual-and-corporate-funded politics. Under a public financing system, you wouldn't need rich sponsors to run a campaign. Ordinary people could have a say in the political process. The cost of a campaign is tiny compared to the trillions of dollars in the federal budget. It's a small price to pay. Political parties would get money based on public support, where "public" is no longer defined as "millionaires."

Does it really take that much intensive thought to suggest that perhaps we should be stopping them from handing out favors?

And just how do you propose to do that? Decisions they make, and are entitled to make, every day affect the bottom line of their sponsors. Somebody has to make those decisions. It makes far more sense for the people making those decisions to not receive money from those affected by them.

Does it take a leap of faith to consider that perhaps the Republicans and Democrats pushing this legislation just might be cementing their and their parties' positions in government, while simultaneously diverting the public's attention from the true font of corruption?

CFR would actually decrease the power of the Democratic and Republican parties, because it puts more influence on the individual elections rather than the party handing out money from on high.

[ Parent ]

Yes! (none / 0) (#50)
by Robert Hutchinson on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 10:28:48 AM EST

Those sound like the words of a right-wing reactionary...
Excuse me ... reform has become a four-letter word lately. It's being used horribly.
The amendment only indicates that the Senate thinks the Supreme Court was wrong, not that they view CFR as a violation of the First Amendment.
Oh, good. So not only do we have to fight to get the Supreme Court to read the Constitution any more, but when they actually do and the Senate doesn't like it, we can forgive them, too.
Under a public financing system, you wouldn't need rich sponsors to run a campaign. Ordinary people could have a say in the political process.
This "ordinary person" is almost certain that at least a few millionaires share his political beliefs. If you can think of a political stance that only poor people have, I might reconsider.
The cost of a campaign is tiny compared to the trillions of dollars in the federal budget. It's a small price to pay. Political parties would get money based on public support, where "public" is no longer defined as "millionaires."
There shouldn't be trillions of dollars in the federal budget. I think I'll rob a millionaire; it's a small price for him to pay. I'll be getting his support by doing so, too.
And just how do you propose to do that? Decisions they make, and are entitled to make, every day affect the bottom line of their sponsors.
99.9% of the time, when a decision a pol makes affects the bottom line of specific sponsors, they are NOT entitled to make that decision, 100 years of misinformation notwithstanding. Next you'll be telling me that it's okay for a police officer to arrest people at random, as long as he's not paid to do so.
CFR would actually decrease the power of the Democratic and Republican parties
That explains why a lot of them support it.

Perhaps we should start public clue financing ...

Robert Hutchinson
No bomb-throwing required.

[ Parent ]

Reform is a six-letter word (none / 0) (#51)
by apm on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 03:33:30 PM EST

Oh, good. So not only do we have to fight to get the Supreme Court to read the Constitution any more, but when they actually do and the Senate doesn't like it, we can forgive them, too.

Come on now, can you honestly tell me that you agree with every Supreme Court decision ever made? I doubt it. The Supreme Court is just nine humans, they are capable of making mistakes, and interpreting the Constitution in ways that most people disagree with. But whether they're wrong or right in their interpretation, they do have the final say in what is Constitutional. Thus the Senate can overrule the Supreme Court with a 2/3 majority by clarifying the Constitution. Like they've tried to do in the flag-burning case. (BTW, I think the flag-burning amendment is a load of BS, not because it's an amendment, but because I don't think flag-burning should be illegal.)

The point is, it's not unreasonable for the Senate to consider an amendment to overrule the Courts. I don't think those sort of things should be taken lightly, though. Not every problem should be addressed with a Constitutional amendment.

This "ordinary person" is almost certain that at least a few millionaires share his political beliefs. If you can think of a political stance that only poor people have, I might reconsider.

How about socialism? What are the odds that the people who've made millions in the capitalist system would support that sort of change? Political power should not be determined by how much money you have. It should be determined by popular support, whether those people have millions or next to nothing.

99.9% of the time, when a decision a pol makes affects the bottom line of specific sponsors, they are NOT entitled to make that decision, 100 years of misinformation notwithstanding. Next you'll be telling me that it's okay for a police officer to arrest people at random, as long as he's not paid to do so.

No, that's not okay. There is a limit to Congressional power, of course. But name me any power you think Congress legitemately holds, and I'll name you a special interest group who will pay money to get their positions passed.

I disagree with your ultraminimalist interpretation of the government, but that notwithstanding, I still maintain that any issue can be affected by large campaign contributions.

That explains why a lot of them support it.

Why? Because they think it would weaken themselves? More likely because they think it would weaken the other guys. Maybe they're both right. Maybe both parties get weaker. I wouldn't argue... it would make a more level playing field for other candidates.

[ Parent ]

Millionaire socialists... (none / 0) (#54)
by daystar on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:40:35 PM EST

This "ordinary person" is almost certain that at least a few millionaires share his political beliefs. If you can think of a political stance that only poor people have, I might reconsider.

How about socialism? What are the odds that the people who've made millions in the capitalist system would support that sort of change? Political power should not be determined by how much money you have. It should be determined by popular support, whether those people have millions or next to nothing.

Ted Turner, Jane Fonda, all of the millionaires in Rage Against the Machine (actually, the vast majority of the millionaires in the entertainment industry).

This past few weeks, Rupert Murdoch.... :-)



--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

Beginning of end for the first (none / 0) (#43)
by z on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 07:49:05 PM EST

Just a decade or so ago people argued about whether the first amendment protected pornography or flag burning. The argument was sometimes made that the first amendment was really meant to protect political speech. Fortunately, the supreme court has taken a broader view.

But the censors never rest. Now they are succeeding right where so many of us thought that protection of free speech was certain.

Want to run for office? Help your favorite candidate? Be sure to hire an election law lawyer first, or you'll be hearing from the FEC.

Cause and Effect (none / 0) (#49)
by PresJPolk on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 02:55:14 AM EST

People like scandal. It can be exciting, like a movie. So what better scandal is there than large-scale bribery?

Those who want to see this campaign finance scandal like to trot out various correlations between votes on issue X and donations by a group founded on issue X. Then they state or imply that the votes were swayed by the dollars.

We have two events - votes , and donations. The supporters of this bill are asserting that one causes the other. How do we know it's not the other way around? If I'm running an organizaton dedicated to a cause, won't I be more likely to give money to people who agree with my goals?

The implied thing here is that these politically incorrect views wouldn't actually be supported by these politicians, if not for these donations. For example, there are people who would have you believe that nobody who doesn't have a direct finanical stake in fossil fuels opposes the Kyoto Protocol.

Campaign finance reform passes U.S. Senate | 68 comments (62 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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My heart's the long stairs.

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