The current thing everybody is out there crying that they want campaign finance reform. Needless to say not only is it anti-first amendment but it is also bad for the poor little guys like myself who don’t own there own radio and TV networks or have zillions of dollars in petty cash.
First lets address the constitutional angle. The founding fathers when they wrote the constitution were concerning political speech at the time. In modern times this has been extended to include pornography and some really lame excuses for artwork.
The way a person could spread there own political views in those times are similar to some that we have now: Newspapers, pamphlets, Books, other publication and simply standing on a corners and screaming your own thoughts at the top of your lungs on a street corner (which then as now I don’t think is very effective). With most of these there is a very critical things needed: Money.
In modern times we have the previously mentioned means as well as TV Radio and the good old Internet. Needless to say two of these require money and one (the well I guess not so old Internet) is easier with it. This creates a problem how does the little guy get a chance to be heard in a world where as said in the movie “Twins”: “Money Talks and ******** walks”. Simply put with money. Therefore to restrict the flow of money into the political system is a restriction on the first amendment.
The McCaine-Fiengold Bill passed by the Senate does just that. Some of what it does is:
Restrict the time special interests can run there own ads and report on the actions of incumbents.
Restrict the money that members can give requiring that members donate to a special fund for political activities.
Restricts the total value of what special interests groups can give to a candidate or party and counts “coordinated efforts” as campaign contributions.
Now I seriously doubt that any of us would want a big corporation buying candidates. The thing is that is already illegal. That’s called bribery. We already also have disclosure laws. The reason this is a bad idea now can be addressed.
Each one of us only has so much money. If we are politically active we probably want to contribute at little. Many of us are mostly concerned with certain issues. What ever they might be we often join different special interests. Contrary to popular belief special interests are not a few rich individuals or companies who are the be all and end all of the organization. Most if they are of any size at all have thousands sometimes millions of members. The N.R.A. is not only the largest but is also the classic example. The N.R.A. has 4 million members. Some of us can only afford to give a little. We don’t join the organization and then get raped by some group we have no control over but join the organization because we already agree with its viewpoint. We aren’t forced to join but do so of our own free will and fully understand why we are doing this. This is the opposite of what happens to union members who join a union as a condition of employment and then often have their union dues used for political purposes against their will, which is (and should be) illegal.
This applies whether you join the Sierra club on the left or the national right to life coalition on the right. This is called pooling our resources. Individually my 45 dollars (membership dues and $10 given for as separate to the I.L.A.) doesn’t mean much. But if we figure the N.R.A. membership at an even 4 million and even one million give $10 it becomes a significant amount, something to the tune of 150 million dollars. Groups like the N.R.A provide a vehicle for us little guys to have a voice while informing us of the actions and positions of politicians. It allows those of us with little money counter the money of those with lots of money.
The reason we need be able to do this is shown by history. In the years prior to the Spanish-American war the newspapers in the 1890’s (chiefly the New York World owned by Joseph Pulitzer and the New York Journal owned by William Randolph Hearst) reported only those stories about conditions in Cuba that supported war with Spain. They called it yeloow journalism then. Today we called that media bias.
Imagine this kind of situation in the future with money being restricted from the political process. Special interest groups would be prevented from giving their side of the issue. For those of us owning guns we would have little recourse but to lose our rights with sensational journalism reporting every murder regardless of the fact that Murder rates are rising in countries with a disarmed populace. Those politicians with the media on their side would have little trouble pushing through their agenda regardless of the facts. While the rest of us, would be kept in the dark on the actions of these politicians during the six weeks before the elections.
These two reason are both by themselves good reasons to be against the McCaine-Fiengold campaign finance reform bill. Both of them together well it makes the whole thing a screwy idea after you look at both reasons. It could better be called the Incumbent and Media Darling protection act.