Now, this leavening impact has been taken away in the name of "cleaning up the system." In the name of eliminating "soft money," McCain-Feingold reforms have federalized the entire political process to an extent political parties can no longer carry out their traditional functions. This has led to the proliferation of special interest money flooding the airwaves and filling the message gap left by the restrictions on political parties.
Political parties are no longer a significant source of candidate campaign support. In fact, for federal candidates, their party committees cannot give them direct campaign support such as TV time unless the party sets up an independent expenditure operation and avoids any coordination with the candidate. This makes every candidate a free agent. More importantly, it makes every special interest as powerful as the political party.
Campaign reforms have done nothing to prevent legal and ethical lapses by federal politicians. Neither have they lessened the impact of money on politics. Nearly every presidential contender has opted out of the public funding program.
Reforms have, however, weakened the traditional role of the political parties and the consensus building the party fosters. One result is seen in the irony attendant to Democrats yelling about exorbitant government spending while Republicans federalize both education and political parties.
Limited government and free speech for political parties-sounds like reasonable positions for any Republican conservative. Too bad both have been felled at the hands of just such Republicans. There must be change, though it may already be too late for John McCain.
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