Hit & Run

Three Cheers for Bumbling Millionaires!


The Cato Institute's Ed Crane makes a point, re: Connecticut, that I haven't seen anyone else make, even though it's obvious: If Ned Lamont was not a millionaire, he could not have defeated Joe Lieberman, even though any anti-war candidate on an even playing field could have done the deed.

This anti-war election is directly analogous to my late friend Gene McCarthy's race for the presidency in 1968. Gene used six-figure contributions from wealthy liberals like Stewart Mott who opposed the war in Vietnam to fund a campaign that ousted a sitting president from his own party. Gene often said that had the '74 amendments to the FECA been in place in '68, he would not have run. Campaign finance laws should not have the power to change American history. But they do. Give everyone the "loophole" of being able to spend as much of their own money to promote their political beliefs and we'll throw a remarkable number of incumbents out of office. And with good candidates instead of bumbling millionaires.

Even if, as Crane points out, this was already proved by Gene McCarthy, it would be intuitively true. CFR advocates would argue that limitless campaign donations would just allow incumbents to build larger war chests. But the passion would be on the side of challengers and their donors; witness how much money George Soros gave to Democrats in 2004 versus how many any Republican gave to his entrenched party. Macy Hanson took the temperature of the new "campaign finance reform" wisdom in July.