Is the Futility of Campaign Finance 'Reform' the New Bipartisan Consensus?


In a New York Times op-ed piece titled "More Rules, More Money," Jan Witold Baran and Robert F. Bauer mock the pretensions of campaign finance "reformers" like Russell Feingold and John McCain—whose efforts, they say, are good for incumbents, election lawyers, and, well, that's pretty much it. The piece is remarkable not so much for its argument as for the fact that the Times chose to run it.

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  1. So, they’re finally admitting that campaign finance reform was “The Incumbent Protection Act”– an abortion for the first amendment and generally one of the most politically wrongheaded ideas since George Bush leaned over to to his wife and said “I know, I’ll get involved in the Middle East”.

    The fact that the Times chose to run it either means 1: The Times now wonders aloud if their support of Campaign Finance Reform was a mistake, much like National Review is up in arms over whether Iraq is a mistake , or 2: They’re running the occasional ‘contrary’ piece so they make themselves look even-handed.

  2. The vast majority of the dollars contributed to a political campaign are used to tell voters what the candidate or his opponent stands for.

    How is this a problem?

    The grand quest to rid politics of money never concludes; frustration with the results of reform invariably inspires fresh calls for more reform.

    Is there any government program this does not describe?

    Now that the presidential public financing system, once described as the ?crown jewel? of reform, has lost significance and credibility ? neither major party nominee in 2004 accepted public money in the primary ? reformers want repairs to that system, as well. Suggestions include more money for government-financed education of increasingly indifferent voters, to encourage them to mark off more of their tax dollars for the presidential campaign fund.

    The candidates aren’t accepting money taxpayers are balking at providing, so the problem must be that “indifferent” voters don’t “understand.” There’s no comprehension of the possibility that we do understand, and we’re pissed off.

  3. I think I may have posted here my solution that neither commandeers resources nor limits freedom of speech:

    Conduct all elections via closed caucus. Nobody is eligible for election who has campaigned (even merely announcing candidacy) prior to the caucus.

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