The McCain-Feingold Gag Order

by | Apr 2, 2001

You don't end bribery and corruption by banning contributions to campaigns. Instead, you simply step up prosecution against bribery and corruption.

It looks, at the moment, like the McCain-Feingold ban on soft money to campaigns will become law. To most Americans this probably represents a good thing. Who could be against “campaign finance reform,” after all? It’s like being against a cure for cancer.

Sadly, only a society filled with public school trained, non-thinkers could reach such a conclusion. Why are we too dense to see it? Banning money from campaigns means banning speech. How so? Most of us are either unable or unwilling to run for office. Consequently, we want to communicate our support for certain candidates (and opposition to others) through the money we give to a campaign. If we give money to a campaign, we help it thrive; if we refuse to give money to a campaign (or if we give money to its opponent), we harm it. This is how we communicate in a representative democracy.

The extent to which we ban money from campaigns is the extent to which we ban our own ability to express ourselves. The issue is deeper than a mere popularity contest. It’s about the ideas we support. A free society cannot survive without free expression of ideas. If soft money cannot be spent to support the non-establishment, minority viewpoint (which often proves to be the correct one), we will be left at the mercy of The Washington Post and The New York Times to — in effect — do our thinking for us. I challenge you to conceive of a worse dictatorship than this.

Many will counter-argue that bribery and corruption are wrong. Of course bribery and corruption are wrong. But you don’t end bribery and corruption by banning contributions to campaigns. Instead, you simply step up prosecution against bribery and corruption. Also, we should restrict political involvement in business: eliminate, or at least reduce, taxation, regulation and corporate subsidies. The incentive for bribery and corruption will essentially disappear. You can’t bribe politicians if you take away powers that they should not have in the first place.

President Bush is reportedly reversing his position on McCain-Feingold, and is prepared to sign the bill. If true, this is a disgusting development worthy of his predecessor, Mr. Clinton. Bush opposed the bill during the campaign and now, taking a page out of his father’s book, is reversing course for who-knows-what reason. Is that a faint echo of “Read My Lips” we hear?

No, it’s not. It’s the sound of freedom fading away in America.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at:

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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