William Thien

Campaign Finance Reform: A Plague of Democracy

Posted on: October 27, 2010

I “approve this messagemostly because it makes me look good. Yes, well that’s kind of academic isn’t it? I mean you are talking to us right now in the advertisement. I am sure the viewer presumes that you approve the message. What, are you trying to insult the viewer? Of course you approve the message. Is this what campaign finance reform was all about?

I recall the massive media interest during 2002 in the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Legislation, the apparent legislative failure meant to completely overhaul allowable campaign method in an all-encompassing way, to rewrite all law governing political campaigns, making campaigns more honest and less socially toxic. There was to be great peace in campaign land as the bipartisan legislation was sponsored by both a Republican AND a Democrat. It was the mudslinging across the aisle that was particularly difficult to endure during campaign season which brought the two fine gentlemen Senators together to provide a solution. Somehow that seems to have failed…miserably. Or lo, wherein lies a design? What was meant to be?

And what is that unruly political advertisement that was spawned along with the reform act? What are those mysterious, biologically unclassified advertisements that seem to slither up from some swamp which have proliferated everywhere like something biblical? Do you approve of those ads as well? In fact, I think I see the media trying to make excuses for such toxic transgressions, now. That is now that people are turning off the television and putting down the newspapers.

Indeed, the only ones profiting from “the act” appear to be the media.

The ads are no more honest. In fact it is quite the opposite. They seem now more than ever to be dishonest, rapid slights.

So what is going on? What is this deceit descending upon the country? Nobody knows who is behind the ads. There isn’t enough time to read the small print, and you have to really turn up the volume to hear who claims to be behind the ads. The media do not do a really good job of policing the ads because it is their bread and butter. Rather, it’s their filet mignon. They look forward to campaign season like a child does the holidays.

I’m not certain the constitution covers the methods used.

Personally I don’t believe there was any reform at all. Senator Feingold, my Senator, a decent guy, though clearly misguided and now apparently misguiding, seems to have given everyone the old political try on the matter. He is after all an attorney, highly skilled and educated. If anyone should know what the result of such legislation would be, it is he. Were doors left open for such behavior in the law? Deliberately? Secret doors behind the bookcase, beneath the stairs that only he would know of for which the bastard creature of reform could access?

Now that it is election time, though, you don’t hear him taking credit for unleashing the slimy creature that Campaign Finance Reform is upon the already heavily burdened constituency. He does remind us that he approves of his own ads, though. My good man, of course you do.

It makes you wonder, is that what democracy is going to be for the next one hundred years? Is democracy even the best political solution for the country any longer? That’s a rough question for someone such as myself to ask since I have developed democratic concepts involving a redistribution of democracy right to the individual, essentially bypassing the voting power of the elected and dividing the power up for the voter to have, something politicians, and the media that profits thoroughly from such a state, fear with great zeal and resistance. Yet, I still vote and I campaign for others as well. Do unto others.

In response I have heard more than once, “democracy is still the best method of determining our leadership.” That might be true. But the decisions made by the voter have to be based on honest, accurate information. The ads I am seeing clearly are coming from the bottom of the deck (and lo, wherein lies a design?), out of the corner of the mouth (what was meant to be?), and a few other places as well of which I shall refrain for the sake of the fairer sex.

I say repeal it, the campaign finance reform bill. Perhaps an evolutionary democratic step or two back may be necessary. Or maybe campaign finance reform was a step backward in the first place, sponsored by the media. They are after all the primary beneficiaries.

The media appear to be covering their tracks as if they were not part of the process, as if they were not the facilitators in the first place, with their own analysis of the ads using such clever, cute devices as “Truth Meters” and saying whether or not the particular advertiser’s pants should be on fire. No, no, no! You are supposed to warn the weary travelers before they drink from the poisoned well, not whence the toxin has left them helpless and without medical aid, paralyzed, unable to rid themselves of the gathering, biting flies that crawl into the tender corners of the mouth, that bite at the sores, blisters boiled open by the searing heat of the sun, no, the stage lights above the cameras where they mix the media poison.

Repeal it. Because from what I can tell, that’s a cliff up ahead. By the way, who led the country in this direction in the first place?

Don’t forget to vote.

Copyright © William Thien 2010

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2 Responses to "Campaign Finance Reform: A Plague of Democracy"

The ‘approve this message’ signature was the result of specific legislation; i think it originated in the ’92 presidential election, though i’m not sure of that.
it’s a way to distinguish ads produced by the hand of the specific candidate’s campaign from those produced more impersonally by the respective candidate’s political party. as you probably know, those overseen by the candidate himself are usually ‘above-the-belt’ and refrain from sleaziness; the individual campaigns leave it to the party higher-ups and for-hires to produce the sleazy stuff (e.g., Willie Horton; the Swift Boat ads —— actually, the horton ads were by GHWB’s personal campaign and caused him heat even though they helped him win; come to think of it, i’d bet and think i even read they were a major factor in the ‘reform’ initiatives, etc.);

rather than reform the campaign process, moves like the ‘approved this ad’ tagline have really just one more bit of self-serving political cover; for now candidates can get sleazier than ever in ads —– they just don’t put the tagline on the gutbucket stuff nowadays, which pretty much absolves them from criticism for the ads; meanwhile, i’m sure it’s pretty easy for candidates to covertly relay what kind of sleazy productions they want the party higher-ups to deliver.
So, campaign reform has reallyi led the way for campaigns to get that much sleazier.

Thank you for your comment. What you refer to in your reply is the BCRA, or Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002. IT was supposed to deal with Attack Ads and much of the dishonesty in political campaigns.

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