Monday, February 20, 2006

When Speech Isn't Speech

"There is a cancer on the body politic: money" - former Senator and Governor Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (D-SC)

Money hasn't always been an issue in politics, but it has always been an issue in modern politics. Over the past century, money has grown from one of many issues to consider when running a campaign to the issue to consider when running a campaign, when thinking about running a campaign, and when wanting your consideration about said campaign to be taken seriously. This isn't what the founders wanted and its nothing they could have had the foresight to prepare the Republic for. There's was a time when candidates were put up for office by others, then stepped aside as they were campaigned for and against. Ideas and arguments won campaigns, not individuals and bank accounts.

However, nostalgia will not solve our problems. To address the pervasive, negative influence money has on our political process elected officials of all stripes must come together around a simple idea: our political process is enhanced, not detracted from, when the playing field is leveled and elected officials are less concerned with the size of their campaign accounts and PAC contributions. Certainly, debate over campaign finance reform, lobbying reform, and perhaps even how legislators use their personal PACs to win seats on "select" committees, will lead to heated debate and solutions that do not entirely satisfy some, but the dissatisfaction of a few is far superior to the continued destruction and decay of our political process for all.

Now if only we had a leader capable of striking the right balance, able to allay the concerns of those on either side, and ensure the legitimacy of our democracy. Paging the junior Senator from Illinois.


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