Skip to comments."I Got Elected. You May Not Criticize Me"
Posted on 11/02/2005 9:06:00 AM PST by FreeKeys
"I got elected. You may not criticize me."
OK, the incumbents don't put it that way. They say: "There's too much money in politics! We need campaign finance reform."
And they get it. "Reform" sounds good. McCain-Feingold and a host of state laws would protect us from the evil influence of big money.
But that's nonsense. When our behemoth government has the power to spend more than $2 trillion every year, big money will find a way to try to influence it. It's the little guys, who aren't in office, who are silenced by "reform."
McCain-Feingold makes it illegal for individuals to buy an ad that names a candidate within 60 days of an election. "'Reformers' want elections to be the private preserve of the political class," snorted Ed Crane of the Cato Institute. He's right. And they're succeeding. They've gamed the system so nearly every incumbent is reelected.
Only an unusually well-funded candidate can challenge the establishment. In 1968, Eugene McCarthy drove Lyndon Johnson from office with the help of funds from rich liberals like Steward Mott. Today, McCarthy's campaign would be illegal.
Campaign finance reform or, rather, establishment politicians' protection acts, has eliminated such challengers. Various laws prohibit those of us who aren't running for office from buying ads before an election to criticize those who are. The Sierra Club can no longer call a politician a polluter. In Wisconsin, an anti-abortion group could run ads mentioning Sen. Herb Kohl, but not Sen. Russ Feingold, because Feingold was up for election. Too bad -- ads about Feingold and others running for office might actually hold them responsible. A federal judge has ordered the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to regulate the Internet, which FEC chairman Bradley Smith warned might even lead to regulating blogs that link to candidates' websites. "Political activity is more heavily regulated than at any time in our nation's history," Smith told the president in his letter of resignation.
Outsiders must shut up. The latest scam is playing out now in Washington state.
To squeeze more money from voters, Washington's legislature passed a 9.5-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase. To their annoyance, Washington law permits another lawmaking process: Citizens can petition to put an initiative on the ballot, which the public can then vote to pass. Some citizens, thinking they were already paying plenty, organized a movement to repeal the tax increase. Two local radio hosts, Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson, spent lots of time on the air explaining why they think the gas tax is a bad idea.
In response to this challenge to their authority, a group of politicians turned to campaign-finance laws to silence Wilbur and Carlson. The theory is this: Radio airtime is valuable. So if a radio host expresses strong political views, that's a contribution, just as if a caterer were providing free food to the campaign's volunteers. Washington law limits contributions in the final three weeks of a political campaign to $5,000, so Wilbur and Carlson must shut up. Or at least the anti-tax group must count the minutes they talked about it on the air, assign some price to that and report that under campaign finance limits. Or something -- Mike Vaska, the lawyer acting as prosecutor, has suggested that if Wilbur and Carlson distanced themselves enough from the other people on their side, they'd be allowed to speak freely on the radio. Ironically, Vaska just happens to be a member of a big private law firm that stands to make big money off a higher gas tax -- maybe millions in legal fees -- $25,000 per bond backed by the tax. For some reason, Washington legislators seem to think that's OK. No one's telling him to shut up.
The political class protects its own.
Spending and speech limits are anti-democratic. Gene McCarthy said it well when he pointed out that the Founders pledged their "lives, fortunes and sacred honor" to win the Revolution. They didn't say, "lives and fortunes up to $1,000."
We need more money, not less, spent on politics. What's spent on campaigns now is less than is spent advertising potato chips. Let the outsiders speak.
The politicians should not tell the people to shut up.
"It's a shakedown system" -- Christopher Hitchens to Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball, Jan. 16, 2002
"I don't think it's bribery; I think it's extortion. Bribery, you know, is when the person that's giving the money does it voluntarily. What it is in Washington is extortion because they all ask for the money." -- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on FNC's The O'Reilly Factor, Feb. 22, 2001
"John McCain told me that the industries which contribute the most to political campaigns are the ones which are the most heavily regulated by the federal government." -- John Fund on Hardball March 26, 2001
"Corruption lies in the heart of the receiver, and not in the wallet of the giver." -- Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT) on the floor of the Senate, March 29, 2001
"Contrary to popular belief, people who deliberately go out to buy political influence are vastly outnumbered by people who are sold political influence by creative or desperate politicians." -- Rick Gaber
"The problem with politics isn't the money; it's the power." -- Harry Browne
McCain-Feingold makes it illegal for individuals to buy an ad that names a candidate within 60 days of an election.
This horrid piece of "legislation" bought us no reform. Instead we got, courtesy of Bush, who signed this anti-Constitutional garbage, a huge infrigement upon First Amendment rights of Americans.
AMEN! Good for him for taking this subject on.
somebody tell me why we got rid of the time honored tradition of tarring and feathering?
("Denny Crane: Gun Control? For Communists. She's a liberal. Can't hunt.")
Being a politician is a career choice for those who couldnt make it in the real world.
Stossel , as he often does, makes some great points. I suggest we follow up with some of our own. When the 'Pubbie pols start coming around and asking for campaign "contributions" to get them re-elected, keep your wallets/purses closed until CFR is repealed and budget cuts are a reality, NOT a topic of conversation.
Dunno, but it's about time to start it up again, right?
A troll you gotta be a troll........Looked into that, you actually reply to disagreement
I guess you are probably used to being ignored, if you cannot be attacked, and have been here a while, your thoughtful comments must be ignored.
The Supreme Court really screwed the pooch by not gutting McCain-Feingold. Fortunately, as over-zealous prosecutors go further and further restricting speech, the matter will HAVE to be settled. The First Amendment still trumps state and federal law.
Vintage Stossel. Thanks very much for the post and the read.
All I can say is this coming election, on my internet radio stations, If anybody tries to stop my speech I will loudly and strongly proclaim to all - in print and in normal radio talk shows ....
F.U. to everybody who voted YEA and signed that unconsitutional POS law!
and if they attmpt to arrest, fine, or jail me for trying to apply my FIRST Amendment rights? My Second Amendment Rights will be applied forcefully.
You're welcome. Thanks very much for the feedback.
It's ok to ignore me.
I just hope I can occasionally encourage someone to think.
( of course I also always respond to the Michell Malkin threads just to get new pics of Michelle for my "collection")
Good sarcastic points. However, you and I know that in our hearts, if St. Hillary is on top of the Dem ticket, we are both going to move heaven and hell not to elect her Higness or any more of those Demoncrats. Right??????
Thanks a hell of a lot, George Bush Jr.
Michelle is "da woMAN" I love her thoughts as well as her photos.
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