Monday, February 19, 2007

Taking McCain out of McCain-Feingold

A repost from PatriotPostBlog

In the 1990s, after dirtying his hands with infamous Savings and Loan kingpin Charles Keating, John McCain became the voice of campaign-finance reform. The legislation that he co-championed with Democrat Russ Feingold tried to rewrite the rules about how campaigns for public office should be financed. First Amendment rights were trampled along the way, and now there is more money in politics than ever before, and even McCain himself can no longer walk the line he once tried to foist on others. He is currently considering opting out of public financing for his presidential bid, and if he hopes to match the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be raised by his rivals, he will most likely go private.

As a reformer, McCain tried to rein in 527s and soft money, but now that he is a candidate, he has tapped into the GOP fundraising giants who have rebuilt the soft-money machine. Six of his eight national-finance co-chairmen have contributed at least 3.5 million in soft money and 527 donations since 1998. How McCain will explain his backslide on this issue will require some first-rate election-season gymnastics.

I know a lot of McCain fans that are going to stick their head in the sand about this one. They'll deny that the real point of "campaign finance reform" is to squash independents and other would be challengers to the politically entrenched - meanwhile the political system remains awash in "soft" money.

The problem isn't money in politics. Its the fact that government is so big and powerful that there is a tremendous incentive to try to harness that power - or at least obtain enough influence to insulate oneself against misuse of power.

If we made government smaller, there wouldn't be this huge financing "problem", because there would be nothing to buy from the political system.


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