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How to Finance-Reform Your Way to a One-Party State - The Ornery American

How to Finance-Reform Your Way to a One-Party State
October 27, 2000

Campaign Finance Reform is, as far as I can tell, the phoniest issue raised in the campaign.

The way the Democrats wrote the campaign finance laws, rich guys can't contribute more than a pittance to candidates, while unions can contribute all they want, directly or through their own efforts. It was an anti-Republican law, trying to get rid of the Republican fund-raising advantage.

But the PACs provided a loophole. And when that was (partially) closed, the new loophole was "soft money." That term makes it sound evil, but in fact it is the oldest political money and perfectly legitimate. People contribute to the party, and the party spends it as they wish. So the individual-candidate limits don't apply.

What's wrong with that? Why is it treated as if it were, like, mafia money or something?

And what kills me is, what difference will it make to reform the campaign finance laws if the people prove they don't care how much the laws are broken? Which is what it will mean if Gore is elected, since he flagrantly broke those laws and then said, in effect, "nanner nanner, you can't get me," because there is "no controlling authority" to arrest and punish him.

In other words, let's see what happens if we actually enforce the laws already on the books, before trying to pass new ones that will, once again, only limit the people honorable enough to obey the law.

The problem ain't the money. The problem is the kind of people who run and the way the media doesn't tell the whole story (are you seeing a lot of coverage of Gore's defiance of Congress right now over the Iran-Russia secret deal?) so that you have to spend money to get the truth before the people.

If you limit campaign spending, you essentially hand complete control of the elections to the media. Do you understand that? If the candidates cannot use lots of money to buy media time, the outrageously-slanted news media will be our primary or only source of information about the candidates.

That, my friends, will be the end of the two-party system in America ... let alone third and fourth parties!

We vote with our pockets as well as our ballots. When we really care, we put money into an election. If you spend the money to bribe voters or get them drunk, or to pay off poll workers to fake the numbers, that's a crime. That's buying an election.

But when you use the money to buy ad time and to pay for campaign travel and renting halls, what exactly is wrong with that? In what sense is that "buying the election"? You're paying to have the opportunity to tell your story as clearly as you can to as many people as possible. Aren't the people then better able to make a choice?

Sure, some ads are misleading, but what difference will finance reform make in that? If there were campaign finance reform, would it turn lies into truth?

Much is made of the idea of "leveling the playing field," but this is a joke. As long as the "news" we hear is so grossly slanted toward the PC-elite (and again, this is not just a whine, this is a constantly demonstrable fact; the double standard of the media is obvious even to those who are carrying it out), then anything that "levels" the playing field in fact gives an irresistible advantage to one group over all others.

My idea of effective campaign finance reform is simple: No limits whatsoever on contributions of any kind, but complete disclosure in electronically searchable format.

The penalty for major violations of the disclosure laws (such as the kind of stonewalling and withholding of information that is the hallmark of both Clinton and Gore) is to remove the candidate's name from the ballot until the disclosures are made.

And if the violations are discovered after the election, then a new election is held with the offending candidate's name removed from the ballot.

Believe me, that would be a controlling legal authority. The offender could still be written in, or his/her party could nominate someone else. But the incentive to conceal information would be nonexistent. And thus candidates would be very careful about whom they chose to receive money from, since all contributions would be completely available for examination by their critics.

Limits only serve one group -- the media. It would give them complete control over elections in America.

Disclosure without limits would serve us all. We could put our money where our mouth is, and we could decide our votes knowing who is backing each candidate! Knowledge is power!

Under my plan it would be obvious when individuals and companies contribute cynically, giving to both sides so that they have an "in" no matter who wins. In effect, they would get no "in" at all.

But grassroots campaigns would still work, if the candidate himself or herself is viable. Of course, no matter how much money you have, Buchanan is still going to be Buchanan.

But then, no matter how much you limit the money, Gore will still be Gore, which means the campaign finance laws would be broken at every opportunity.

The fact is, money doesn't buy elections -- it buys the attention of the voters. It's the equivalent of sending a marching band through the streets to draw a crowd for a stump speech. Unlimited money keeps that privilege open to anyone who can attract contributors, and with full disclosure, it exposes those who are in the pockets of various interests. We'd know who the teams are as we make our choice.

There's no chance of that reform, though. Why not? Because it truly doesn't benefit any one group over any other. And therefore no one has any particular interest in supporting it.

In fact, you can take this as a pretty reliable guide: Any "campaign finance reform" that actually has serious support from a major political group is slanted to the advantage of that group. And any "campaign finance reform" that can actually get through Congress and be signed by the President will be no reform at all, because the "reform" will definitely redound to the benefit of incumbents. After all, the one thing Congress and the President can agree on is they all want to be re-elected.

Meanwhile, accusations about one candidate being "against" campaign finance reform are a crock. As soon as the phrase is mentioned, I know I'm being cynically manipulated by somebody who merely wants to change the system to his own advantage. The only "reform" that is needed is: Liberty and truth. Now there's a reform we're not likely to see any time soon!

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