March 03, 2005

Sink McCain/Feingold

All right then. At last I am convinced. John McCain and Russ Feingold’s “campaign finance reform” is a threat to free speech. At the very least, the way some people interpret it is a threat to free speech.

Matt Welch put the seed of doubt in my mind in an interview with Norman Geras.
I used to think that enacting campaign finance reform legislation was the most important political issue in the United States, and that most people who worried about its effects on free speech were disingenuous. I no longer do.
Hmm, I thought when I saw that. Matt is a smart guy. Whether I agree with him or not (and very often I do) he knows how to make me think. I knew he must have a good point, that he must have learned something important, even though he didn’t hint at what it might be. I filed the thought and knew some day I would see or read or hear about something and it would click whether I changed my mind about it or not.

That day has arrived. The FEC may soon regulate blogging.

It’s shady when gigantic corporations cut fat checks to political parties and candidates. It’s even shadier when gigantic corporations cut fat checks to both parties at once. (This is otherwise known as “covering your bases.”) Don’t tell me it’s charity. Ted Kennedy and Trent Lott really don’t need anyone’s charity money.

But what on earth could possibly be shady about little old me linking to Barack Obama’s or Rudy Giuliani’s Web site? Not a damn thing, unless they pay me to do it and I don’t disclose that payment. But then we’re talking about ethics, not law.

Not according to McCain/Feingold as it’s being interpreted now by the feds. They seem to think if I link to a politician’s Web site it’s the equivalent of giving them money. I could be fined if I go over my limit. (Sigh.)

So Matt Welch (along with plenty of others) was right. It really is a threat to free speech, whether it was intended that way or not.

This has united the blogosphere. Everyone from Atrios and Daily Kos to Charles Johnson and Ace of Spades is rightly bitching about it.

Say what you will. Oh, now you’re against it when it threatens you personally. Well, yeah. I don’t give tens of thousands of dollars to senators so I can buy access and the expectation of getting my phone calls returned. I’m just a guy with a modem and an opinion.

I suppose the CEOs of multinational corporations are just guys (and gals) with opinions (and interests) as well. And I suppose they’re more “important” than me because they make stuff we want and provide jobs in the community. Maybe they should get their phone calls returned before I do. But I’ll bet ten to one that those who donate scads of money get more access and returned calls than those who don’t. I mean, come on, why be naïve about this?

So I don’t know. I still kinda like the idea of campaign finance reform. But that doesn’t change the fact that McCain/Feingold needs to be sunk. It goes way too far, and I’ll be damned if the federal government tells me what I can and can’t write on this blog. This is not Iran, and this is not Syria.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2005 11:53 PM

Nothing wrong with the idea of campaign finance reform, just as there is nothing wrong with the idea of ending poverty or getting guns off the streets.

The problem is that in practice, laws to that effect aren't really good for much and can often be counterproductive. Even the "good" parts of McCain-Feingold just caused donations to be redirected to 527s. Which of course necessitates more government action to curtail that. Until no one is allowed to talk about politics becuase the government has a camera over your dinner table.

Posted by: Adam Herman at March 4, 2005 12:10 AM

I came to realize via the brilliant insights of Bradley Smith that virtually all campaign reforms are doomed to fail. His book, Unfree Speech : The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform, is a must read. Why is this the case? It’s very simple: the lawyers on both side of the aisle inevitably seek to find the legal loop holes. The spirit of the law is too easily violated. What can be done to improve matters? There is only one realistic answer. We should allow everybody to spend as much money as they so desire. They should be obligated merely to reveal who receives their donations.

Posted by: David Thomson at March 4, 2005 12:32 AM

Sounds like they spiked the bill so that they'd have political cover to vote against it.

I don't know the details of how the process works but I'm sure that if enough congressmen don't want finance reform they can find a way to add poison riders or make sure its turned into Frankenstein in committee or some such.

Fooled again.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at March 4, 2005 01:31 AM

“but I'm sure that if enough congressmen don't want finance reform”

You miss the central point. Good intentions are not enough. It is of secondary importance whether you prefer a particular outcome. The real question is if the goal is even attainable in the real world. Will your attempts at “reform” cause far more harm than good? I contend that all campaign reform laws, other than the demand to report one’s donations, are doomed to inevitably take away our First Amendment Rights.

Posted by: David Thomson at March 4, 2005 02:44 AM

The specifics of the law were known and warned against by many prior to its passage. The deal breaker for me was the prohibition on naming a politician in an ad within sixty days of an election. That's a violation of free speech on its face. Whether we like it or not, the right to give your money to whomever you want for whatever reason is fundamental to a free society. Limiting this right, even if for the noblest of intentions, necesarily impacts all rights, including speech.

Posted by: Sean at March 4, 2005 04:32 AM

I have a lot of respect for John McCain, and I supported the spirit and intent of campaign finance reform. Maybe it is just too tough - herding cats....siamese cats, no less.

So, either we turn the spigots on full blast and just insist on full reporting of everyone who donates to a campaign, or is there any feasibility in amending McCain-Feingold? Im not an expert, just another guy with a modem and a renewed sense of empowerment in the blogosphere.

As it is, I have sent emails to my two senators and to McCain himself expressing my EXTREME concern.

Posted by: j3sdad at March 4, 2005 05:50 AM

So I don’t know. I still kinda like the idea of campaign finance reform. But that doesn’t change the fact that McCain/Feingold needs to be sunk. It goes way too far, and I’ll be damned if the federal government tells me what I can and can’t write on this blog. This is not Iran, and this is not Syria.
The only campaign finance reform I can support is transparency. No matter what the intentions or how prettily you package it, it is STILL supression of Freedom of Speech and now you can see the direction it leads to.

I say this despite the fact that 90% of all contributions of 1 million dollars or more go to the Democratic Pary, and I have not supported them for quite some time.

You know that was a REAL suprise to me? I actually bought the Urban Legand that Big Money went to the Republicans, when in reality their larger warchests come from larger numbers of smaller donations.

As the size of the donation increases the Republicans percentage rises and the Democrats falls.

So let political contributions be public and leave the 1st Amendment alone.

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at March 4, 2005 05:51 AM

Election 2002

Election 2000

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at March 4, 2005 05:57 AM

Dammit Dan, you said first what I was all excited to say: "The only campaign finance reform I can support is transparency."

It is the only campaign finance reform that would both work and not vilolate the First Amendment. All these other attempts, as has been demonstrated over time, just push the money around to some other loophole - sort of like the way a girdle works, it doesnt' make the person any thinner, it just moves the fat to a place where it is less obvious or more easily hidden.

For campaign finance the net effect of all these well-intentioned laws is less transparency and more corruption.

Replace the current law(s) with one that says a candidate must fully disclose the source of every campaign dollar he receives; whether that is cash, gifts, travel, etc.

Posted by: too many steves at March 4, 2005 06:31 AM

McCain/Feingold attempted to address a real problem: individuals, corporations, and interest groups that are given special access to and undue influence with politicians, not because of their voting strength (that would be totally acceptable), but because of their ability and willingness to fund the high cost of political speech.

The problem with McCain Feingold is that it seeks to LIMIT this influence, rather than use means to expand everyone's voice. Public financing is the way most countries do this. But in hyperindividualistic America, this is a non-starter, since it gives public money to all candidates, even those people find abhorrent.

The way around this is a proposal put forward a couple of years ago by Yale law profs Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres in their book Voting With Dollars: A New Paradigm for Campaign Finance.

They want every registered voter to be given $50 a year in "Patriot dollars": taxpayer financed vouchers that could be donated to the candidate or candidates of a voters choice. Under such a system, candidates who who didn't want to spend their days dialing rich people for dollars, or who supported policies that not many rich people support, could spend it meeting with groups of regular voters and trying to get them to donate their "patriot dollar" vouchers.

The other innovation they propose would mandate that contributions be secret, as with a secret ballot. Contributions to a campaign with "Patriot dollars" or with regular money would be through a blind trust. A pharmaceutical company could claim to candidate X that it donated $10,000 to his campaign, but there would be no way to actually prove this.

Both of these innovations -- the patriot dollars and the blind trust -- address the same problem of undemocratic access to political speech, but do it in a better way, by EXPANDING rather than contracting such speech.

By the way, Ayres isn't a liberal, he's a Cato Institute libertarian, who originally put forward the blind trust idea in this National Review online article:

Here's a group that is trying to build support for these ideas:

Posted by: markus rose at March 4, 2005 06:51 AM

Freedom means freedom for everyone. Whether your time is worth $5 dollars an hour or $500. You should be able to give your time to the political causes you believe in. And you should be able to do it AFTER you convert it to money.

Technology empowers. What did you think that meant? It means that people can do more than they used to be able to. The law said that too much contribution to politics is bad, illegal and by extension, immorral. The NYT could already reach millions. Now you can too. If you want to shackle the big guy for being powerful, then you are against technology because sooner or later you will be powerful too.

Posted by: Tom Dichiaro at March 4, 2005 07:42 AM

The first amendment is clear -- free speech is the only answer. Anyone who gives a damn about respecting the constitution needs to look at campaign finance "reform" and see that it is a catastrophy for the first amendment, and that it must be scrapped immediately. It's clear that the Supreme Court is not interested in respecting the constitution, it's up to the rest of us to make damn sure the executive and legislative bodies start to.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at March 4, 2005 08:12 AM

Just don't mention the name Bush, or else all this syrupy bipartisan agreement will vanish into thin air. Or if Bush so much as mentions this you'll see Lefty bloggers do an instant 180 on it.

Posted by: Carlos at March 4, 2005 08:42 AM

Perhaps the biggest problem with campaign finance reform is that the guys who write the big checks, who send big checks to both parties, and do everything else are able to find the loopholes because they're giving enough money that they can have a full-time lawyer on staff looking for how to get around it. But the average person who just wants to throw a few bucks his favorite candidate's way, or argue for a position, or set up his own webiste, isn't going to be able to afford that kind of treatment. It's a barrier to entry. (Admittedly with ways around if you're willing to join a large group to pool your resources; but if you want to be independent, forget it.)

The other problem is that people with money (or grassroots people) can easily set up their own media organizations, which are then exempt. We have to make them exempt, or else we violate freedom of the press even more. But then it either does nothing or forces the government to decide who is a "real" journalist.

Posted by: John Thacker at March 4, 2005 08:46 AM

I get really pissed when people talk about the need for "full reporting of all contributions" as if we don't have that already. We do, and we've had it for years and years before McCain/Feingold. Go to the FCC website. It's all there. And no one gives a damn, unless some bright ad executive figures out a way to use the info. in an ad, for a candidate with enough money to run the ad on tv.

Posted by: markus rose at March 4, 2005 08:50 AM

markus -

I can't support any sort of public money campaign chest, and for the reasons that were articulated so well by Adam Herman and David Thomson.

I already pay for NPR and a raft of pork barrel programs, thanks. Transparency and freedom - and where would a blind trust fit into public trust?

We have people that use ATM/debit/credit cards/online banking to conduct their entire financial existence... who without a blink who are convinced that touchscreen voting technology is impossible to secure.

Secret money? Who will watch the accountants, markus?

No; give me transparency in contributions and make the candidates organise, staff, and manage lengthy, expensive campaigns. A campaign is supposed to be the crucible that seperates the fit from the unfit anyway.

MF CFR must be repealed. Not reformed, but junked. The FEC is already incapable of effectively monitoring national elections - the conduct of each state's procedures is a state responsibility, remember - and the looming expansion of the powers and responsibilities mentioned in the Cnet interview are obviously beyond the physical ability of the agency now.
Not only is MF bad law, the beauracracy in place tasked with administering will be reduced to attempting to enforce it by haphazard spasms of selective targetting.

You have to wonder which side of the blogosphere will suffer there, don't you?

The commissioners in favor of this agenda are all democrats, remember?

Posted by: TmjUtah at March 4, 2005 08:54 AM

"Just don't mention the name Bush, or else all this syrupy bipartisan agreement will vanish into thin air. Or if Bush so much as mentions this you'll see Lefty bloggers do an instant 180 on it."

Spot on, Carlos. Spot on.

I believe that the President could well step up and take responsibility for his part in this disaster. I'd like to see that happen, if only to watch the groupgasm from the left.

Posted by: TmjUtah at March 4, 2005 08:57 AM

1. This is not an issue of free speech, because as so many of you pointed out when protesters were stuck into cages... they're free to say what they want, the government is simply saying that some areas are 'off limits'.


People don't have to be permitted into a Presidential public appearance... they're free to say what they want in "the public square", just not at the rally.

So I recommend to all of you who laughed at the idiots warning of a slippery slope... go into your town square and read aloud your blog entries. This is a free country. No problems here...

gags on his own words


I'm in the middle of reading James Walsh's new book "Liberty In Troubled Times". He postulates that we may no longer be truly split between Liberal and Conservative, but that since 9/11 there is a deeper fracture... Libretarian and Statist.

How much control do you want the government to have?

USAPATRIOT? Campaign Finance Reform? Social Security? Federal Amendments Defining Marriage? Federal Mandates for Education? Federal Mandates on what is or is not considered "religion in schools/public life"? Federal Laws on Assult weapons? Federal Laws on Drugs?

The question becomes, in a free society, who should be responsible for the individual, the government or the individual?

If you say that the government should be trusted with telling Doctors what they can and cannot provide (no Pot, but here's some COX2-Inhibitors), then you should be happy that they will provide for old people with Social Security. If you don't mind the government imposing the defination of Marriage across all fifty states, then you should have no problem with them telling you where you can and cannot speak your mind.

Or should you?

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord

Posted by: Ratatosk at March 4, 2005 09:23 AM


Surely there is a difference between, say, a newspaper not letting you buy an ad or have your article printed by them, and being banned from self-publishing? In the specific case of open government forums, it gets tricky, but there's unarguably a difference between not being able to use someone else's venue, and not being able to use your own.

Similarly, I doubt that anyone is completely consistent over what they want the government to control. The vast majority of people have always believed in circumstances, and in treating different things differently.

In the case of gay marriage, of course, part of the problem is that it is already federalized. Surely one state imposing rules on everywhere else is as bad as a federal law imposing on all states. (This applies to crafty forum shopping for class-action lawsuits as well.) The only amendment proposed was fairly carefully written to only prevent: 1) some states from imposing their rules on others, and 2) state supreme courts from changing the law to permit gay marriage without an explicit amendment or legislative rule. It did not ban civil unions, and nor did it prevent legislatively-adopted gay marriage. Of course, people are free to call themselves married no matter what; what matters is all the ways that the government is already involved in marriage, such as awarding benefits and the like.

Posted by: John Thacker at March 4, 2005 09:38 AM

The huge mistake being made here is that speech is being counted as some kind of contribution. If speech is a contribution, and contributions are regulated, then speech is regulated. If speech is regulated (and political speech at that), the First Ammendment is violated.

Frankly, I can't believe this was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Posted by: at March 4, 2005 09:45 AM

TmjUtah --
Ackerman and Ayres finance their proposed liberty dollars by making the volutary federal check off mandatory and raising it to $10 or $15 dollars.

Their proposal responds to the legitimate argument against public financing: I should not have to subsidize would-be politicians whose views I find to be abhorrent. It mitigates this by allowing you to direct your "patriot dollars" toward the conservative candidate of your choice.

Their proposal does not respond to those who just don't like giving up an extra ten bucks, or who have no problem with the fact that doners have greater voice and influence than non-donors.

Regarding the blind trust, its accountants would be FEC employees. I'd trust them a lot more than some pollworker in Detroit, or in rural Ohio.

And regarding your support for mandatory "transparency" and your conflation of "blind trust" and "public trust", here is Ayres from his National Review article:

"Ballot secrecy was adopted toward the end of the 19th century to deter political corruption by disrupting the economics of vote buying. That made it much more difficult for a candidate to know if, at the end of the day, the voters he paid had actually voted for him. In much the same way, we could use an anonymous "donation booth" to restrict campaign-finance corruption...
We should remind ourselves that we chose to make voting a solitary act in order to diminish corruption. Anyone opposing mandated donor anonymity needs to explain why we should not also jettison mandated voting anonymity."

Posted by: markus rose at March 4, 2005 09:54 AM

Except Tosk, the government isn't imposing its own definition of marriage across the entire United States. It's defining what kind of marriage it will recognize legally. Big difference.

Not that this has much to do with CFR, specifically McCain Feingold. I can't believe that it wasn't obvious to more people the problems that would arise. The entire construct was designed to fix problems created by the last round of campaign finance laws, that were themselves designed to fix things "for all time".

I've got to say, the last Presidential election was the most poisonous I remember, largely because of McCain Feingold. It made it illegal to advocate [I]for[/I] a candidate, but there was nothing stopping you from campaigning [I]against[/I] a candidate. So partisans were left with nothing to do but tear down the other guy.

I think everybody needs to be ashamed of themselves on this one. Congress and the President for voting for a piece of legislation that they felt was unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court for being so blind as to think that it wasn't.

Posted by: Mark at March 4, 2005 09:56 AM

We have people that use ATM/debit/credit cards/online banking to conduct their entire financial existence... who without a blink who are convinced that touchscreen voting technology is impossible to secure.

As someone who has worked in Computer, Network and Information Security, for over a decade now... I have to disagree with your analogy.

1. MAC Machines require Identification, Authentication and Authorization(your card, PIN and the banks ID system). In a secret ballot system, these are not desired. This dramatically increases the risk of system compromise, we cannot verify who is doing what.

2. MAC machines interface directly with a central system which is constantly updating and maintaing a series of checks and balances. Most of the voting machine designs store all data locally. Many local repositories increase the risk of compromise as opposed to a single repository.

3. MAC Machines print a receipt which can be used to crosscheck and dispute transactions. Many of the voting systems have no receipt. This means that a bug in a MAC machine is likely to be caught, while a bug in a Voting system may not be. On top of that, the individual can look at a monthly statement (or real time on the net) and verify the exchange. Again, something not possible with voting systems, nor should it be.

4. The physical security of a MAC machine is much more complex than any of the voting systems currently in production.

5. Finally, the issue of trust. A Bank will not intentionally place trojan code in a MAC machine, because they must maintain the trust of the customer base. A voting machine company may or may not have partisan leanings and may or may not implement malicious code. Since all of the verification is gone, there are no checks to protect this.

A secure evoting system isn't impossible, it is however a hard problem, which no vendor has yet found a trustable way to address.

As for "security" today... the choice by the American public to use Internet Banking, ecommerce and other similar applications is a foolish one. Only in the past 9 months have VISA and Mastercard started talking about requirements around credit card data. Before then, a merchant could run your credit card, in clear text, across a wireless netowrk with no security at all. And let me tell ya, lots of vendors did and still do.

E-Commerce isn't much better. About 85% of the e-commerce sites online today are vulnerable to SQL Injection and cross-site scripting attacks. A large subset of those are on old patches, have poorly designed firewalls or simply don't practice smart architecture when designing systems (Many have the database on the same server that the web service is on.) Better yet, most of them have inadequate monitoring and may not know if their site is compromised.

Sorry for the rant... but things really are more complicated than "let's pop out some e-voting machines".

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord

(also a Certified Information Systems Security Professional, C.I.S.S.P.)

Posted by: Ratatosk at March 4, 2005 09:58 AM

The key word here is interpretation. This is simply one interpretation of the law - not the final word. Reasonable people disagree about interpretation of law all the time. I am sure this will be picked apart in the courts, and the courts will determine if this interpretation is actually correct and constitutional, etc.

Interesting discussion of a complex issue. Thanks for the post.

Posted by: Karrie Higgins at March 4, 2005 10:10 AM

Ratatosk -

Your comment is appreciated.

The problem is that the technology exists to make fraud-free voting a possibility - but for that very reason it will not be implemented.

I know that there has to be a way where a system can authenticate a user's rights, record his/her input, report that data, then divorce the identity of the individual from the data generated while leaving records on both sides of the "who voted for who/who won" divide.

And provide a paper record. And the "Who voted for who" block of data would be accessible only by court order, and then only until the election in question had been certified by the SecState in question.

That's all expensive and complicated and filled with all those nasty technical geek things that make our magic world possible, but everybody takes for granted, I know.

I'd be just as happy with a thumbprint on every paper ballot, a notary on every absentee ballot, and purple thumbs on election Tuesdays.

Dean may not kill the Democrats. Fraud-free elections will.

I am not a network/IT guy.

Posted by: TmjUtah at March 4, 2005 10:20 AM

On second reading, Tosk, I need to add I appreciate your technical expertise and acknowledge your superior skills where the nuts and bolts of this issue are the question.

If we need something, we build it. The liabilities associated with creating the hardware/software for a voting system are daunting to any sane businessman - but the PR risk of being targetted by one or the other parties has to carry quite a bit of weight, too.

Karrie -

If you get fined or arrested for refusing to take down banners on a site you run in the sixty days before next election, make sure you report on how that "interpetation" thing worked out for you.

Posted by: TmjUtah at March 4, 2005 10:25 AM

"Dean may not kill the Democrats. Fraud-free elections will."

Huh? See Hitchens March Vanity Fair article on "Ohio's Odd Numbers"

And remember that it was written by a Bush supporter.

We need federal control over the one national race we have for President. We can include provisions for this in the Constitutional Amendment abolishing the electoral college. Which I believe will get a good bit of support once Hillary or someone equally offensive to conservative sensibilities loses the popular vote and gets sworn in on January 20th anyway.

Posted by: markus rose at March 4, 2005 10:27 AM

Except Tosk, the government isn't imposing its own definition of marriage across the entire United States. It's defining what kind of marriage it will recognize legally. Big difference.

And this story isn't really repression of free speech... its simply stating that some forums reach a wide enough audience that it can be valued in dollars. Or does that perhaps, depend on the point of view of the observer?

Are you a Statist or a Libretarian? Either answer is ok... it just boils down to "How Much Federal Authority Should There Be?"

Personally, I think that the Federal governement should be tasked with National Defnese, protection of the bill of rights, the constitution and the management of interstate commerce. Everything else, in my view, should fall to the individual when possible, the locality when feasible and the State as a last resort.

I don't know that the federal government should care about marriage one way or the other since it doesn't impact defense, commerce or the bill of rights.

Government is not an entity that one can easily permit/deny based on the moment. Once ceeded, freedoms are rarely returned. Once given, the government rarely gives up power. This goes for any government, not the US specifically.

Of course, we as Americans have the right to pick and choose where we want the government to meddle... just remember though, your view may not always be with the majorities... You may be with the majority on drugs, or marriage and not on campaign finance, or on the side of social security and not on the side of social programs run by religious groups.

There are many pro-Campaign Finance Reform folks who thought that government management was a good idea, now some of those people are re-thinking but it may be too late. The freedom ceeded, the precedent set, the ball is in motion...

Will people who were pro-PATRIOTACT or pro-gun control, one day see a news report and realize that they backed something they shouldn't have?

I'd rather be responsible for myself. If I make a bad decision, it's my problem. If I vote for the government to be in control of something, then find out it was a bad decision, I've helped create a problem for all Americans (perhaps even future generations).


Posted by: at March 4, 2005 10:28 AM

Just don't mention the name Bush, or else all this syrupy bipartisan agreement will vanish into thin air. Or if Bush so much as mentions this you'll see Lefty bloggers do an instant 180 on it.

Sadly, this is already happening. Initially I sensed strong opposition to it from the left, but when lefties realized that the 3 FEC commissioners who support internet regulation are Democrats and the 3 FEC commissioners who oppose it are Republicans, they suddenly became much less enthusiastic about opposing it. Increasingly I'm seeing leftwing blogs (especially in the comments sections) trashing Bradley Smith for "fear-mongering" and other yummie rightwing conspiracies.

Although McCain-Feingold is touted as a bipartisan reform bill, it's not really all that bipartisan. Most (38) Republicans voted against it, along with only 3 Democrats. I suspect Republicans have soured on McCain-Feingold even more since 2002. I wonder if it will even pass if it went up for a vote today. In other words, at the moment there is a lot more support for McCain-Feingold on the left, than the right. So I won't count on much opposition to McCain-Feingold from the left, which really is a shame.

Posted by: MisterPundit at March 4, 2005 10:34 AM

A couple of quick points:

The FECA's "media exemption" should be attacked. The feds should not be able to decide who is "the press" and who is not. Indeed, licensure of the press was one of the things the colonies rebelled against. If traditional media had to live by the rules that may be imposed on bloggers, they would oppose it and the current regulatory scheme would collapse.

Voluntary public financing is a fantasy. Just ask the FEC what the trendline is (and has always been) on the check-off on tax returns.

Posted by: Karl at March 4, 2005 10:56 AM

"Are you a Statist or a Libretarian? Either answer is ok... it just boils down to "How Much Federal Authority Should There Be?"

I guess the correct response is "more statist than you". I generally consider myself fairly libertarian. I'm pro-Patriot Act (with reservations about a few provisions), anti-gun control, anti-gay marriage (except opposed to the FMA.). And I'm big opposed to the current campaign finance laws.

My response wasn't so much a disagreement with your position as with your argument. You are implicitly buying into the argument that the current gay marriage debate (and the Patriot Act debate) is a civil rights struggle. It's not. No one is limiting the freedom of action of any person, including gays who want to marry. This is only an argument over whether the government will recognize that status as equivalent to heterosexual marriage.

That's not civil rights, that's contract law.

Posted by: Mark at March 4, 2005 11:38 AM

I think that my position on this whole government regulation of blogs is clear from earlier posts... but I would like to discuss the flip side:

Is it possible for Blogs to sway elections?

I think we can all agree that it is possible. (Some may even say it helped sway '04)

Is there a reasonable cause to believe that somebunal politicians might either payoff less scruplous bloggers, or even create astrotruf blog sites?

I don't know... maybe.

Is it possible that groups, like some of the 527's , would "encourage" their members to run a blog network, which would push a particular agenda?


The blogsphere could, at some point, exert a very large influence over the minds of Americans.

Dunno how it should be dealt with... or if it should.


Posted by: Ratatosk at March 4, 2005 12:09 PM

Markus: We can include provisions for this in the Constitutional Amendment abolishing the electoral college

Be aware that this would remove a key safeguard which ensures a two-party electoral system. If this is what you desire, as it is for me, then fine, but know that it will cause a dramatic shift in the system.

Posted by: Mike T. at March 4, 2005 12:16 PM

You are implicitly buying into the argument that the current gay marriage debate (and the Patriot Act debate) is a civil rights struggle. It's not. No one is limiting the freedom of action of any person, including gays who want to marry. This is only an argument over whether the government will recognize that status as equivalent to heterosexual marriage.

No, I think you misunderstand my position. I do not think that gay people have a 'right' to be recoginized as married. To my mind, the federal government should recoginize a civil institution, if it is recoginized by the state which the citizen lives in. I live in Ohio and while I personally think that the Ohio law is a bit too much (outlawing any possibility of civil unions, even between persons of the opposite sex), I certianly approve of the process by which the State passed the law. I do not think that the Federal government should 'define' marriage for all 50 states. I think that citizens should define that for their own state.

Its not an issue of 'civil rights', for me it's an issue of very small government. It's an issue of placing as many decisions as possible at the local or state level.

(My personal opinion is that two gays marrying neither picks my pocket or breaks my leg... so it's none of my business.)

The Patriot Act has a number of issues, not the least of which involve the area surrounding wiretapping and electronic investigation. I saw the Patriot Act used in a recent(2 years ago) computer crime. There was no threat that the person was a terrorist, but there wasn't enough evidence to pull a warrant, suddenly it became a National Security issue. Personally, I would prefer to see a guilty man walk, than an innocent man lose his privacy. (Esp since this was small scale white collar crime).

If I personally saw one instance of the act being used in this way... how many other times has it happened? We don't know, because they don't have to tell us. That is Big Government Involvement to my way of thinking.

My preference is for the Federal government to take a lassie faire attitude to as much as possible. Yes, I believe that the federal government should be able to communicate between agencies... I do not think they should be permitted this 'shortcut' around wiretapping or computer snooping. I do not think that any sort of "gag order" is appropriate at any level. Even if its never used, the fact that it permits the federal government to get the list of books I've bought or even read at the Library, indicates to me serious flaws in the ideology behind the bill.

This isn't a liberal "You Owe Me", its a libretarian "What the hell do you think you're doing" ;-)


Posted by: Ratatosk at March 4, 2005 12:30 PM

The two-year anniversary of the looting of the Iraq National Museum is upon us, folks.

You want the whole story? Sit back. I've done all the work.

Iraq Antiquities Revisited.

You want to know about the real perils of reading? This story has both nudity and fire. Man, what more do you want?



Posted by: Jeffrey -- New York at March 4, 2005 03:25 PM

markus -

"We need federal control over the one national race we have for President. We can include provisions for this in the Constitutional Amendment abolishing the electoral college. Which I believe will get a good bit of support once Hillary or someone equally offensive to conservative sensibilities loses the popular vote and gets sworn in on January 20th anyway."

Thank God for the constitution.

There's nothing short of civil war that will ever see the electoral college abandoned. And that's a very, very good thing.

All those whiney blue voices from red states clamoring to be "heard" wouldn't be so hot to see the end of the electoral college is the nine largest cities in the United States were consistently red.

But they vote blue... and would dictate the fate of the executive branch for the entire nation.

Dem candidates and political consultants would love for the EC to be abandoned. They would never have to ride another bus across the northern plains or search for a decent hotels in those nasty little towns.

FWIW, I entertain the idea that returning federal senate elections back to state legislatures might not be such a bad thing, too.

Mike T -

I disagree with your contention that the EC has anything to do with partisan politics. The chief executive's duties are enumerated such that his primary duty is to the constitution. The choice must represent the best spread of interests and issues possible - which is not possible when a single demographic has a lock on the numbers - to sustain the viability of the office in the eyes of the nation as a whole.

Hope that makes sense; I've got the worst headache I've had in months but I wanted to weigh in on this topic while it was fresh.

Hillary winning by electoral college? That's a good one. Very good.

Posted by: TmjUtah at March 4, 2005 04:15 PM

It would be great to see some apologies (I don't know if you are one of the many people who owe these) to the senior Republican senators who I remember making exactly these points before the legislation was passed. They were vilified for standing up for what were and remain important free speech rights of all Americans.

Posted by: ZF at March 4, 2005 04:55 PM

I am tempted to make a point about all this but then I am reminded of a line from one of my favorite movies - Terms of Endearment (I know I know - Titanic too - oh the shame of it!) - when the Shirley McLaine character informs the Jeff Daniels character that one of his best traits is that he has always been keenly aware of his own limitations and he shouldn't lose that trait now when he needs it most (it would be an understatement to call that a rough translation)-

In other words I'm over my head here, and like Flap Horton, I know it :-). But is this proposed limitation restricted to actual LINKS? You know those little underlined things that half of us have never mastered?

Would I be allowed for example to say

"Bush is the greatest thing since swiss cheese - check it out here..."?

And if that would be OK - what precisely is the legal line that the direct (hyper?)link itself crosses?

Posted by: Caroline at March 4, 2005 05:27 PM

TmjUtah -- I'm sure I've mentioned this before, to no avail, but eliminating the electoral college would encourage parties to run 50 state campaigns. Every vote would count, and smart campaigns would harvest their votes were they could done most cheaply, and that means in areas with cheap media buys. For instance, both Bush and Kerry would have needed every vote they could have squeezed out of Utah.

The electoral college leads to Presidential campaigns being conducted in a half dozen states.

I'm not going to lose sleep however over the continuation of the EC. You might think Hillary channeling Lieberman in 2008 is a big joke, but don't forget that Kerry was a 60,000 vote switch in Ohio away from winning the EC -- despite a pop. vote deficit of 3 million. Immigration has turned California and Illinois into safe blue states, and Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Florida from red states into toss-ups. Like I said, the EC doesn't particularly hurt Dems. It only hurts the large majority of voters who don't live in swing states and basically cast irrelevant votes.

Glad you support State Legislatures selecting Senators. While you're at it, why don't you let them appoint the Electors for the EC, as they did two hundred years ago as well?

Posted by: markus rose at March 4, 2005 05:31 PM

Uh - Flap Horton here again - but this talk about eliminating the electoral college - doesn't that bring up that point that Thomas Sowell (I think it's him) has been hammering - that the US is a republic and not a democracy? I spent a good 20 minutes searching for a specific article that was spread around before the election that made that distinction clear. I'm pretty sure it was Sowell. Can't find it but did find this:

republic vs democracy

In other words, I don't think we should be casually throwing around the idea of eliminating the electoral college in favor of the popular vote unless we really understand this distinction (all the democracy euphoria going around notwithstanding).

Posted by: Caroline at March 4, 2005 06:13 PM

Markus, you are mistaken. In the absence of the EC, campaigns would indeed focus on where the votes are: the major population areas. If there were no need to get an electoral majority, there would be no need to focus on states that wouldn't make a difference: the largest population centers would simply overwhelm everyone else. For example, if you win 65% of New York City, instead of 60%, you nullify the votes of several small states. A small swing in NYC, in other words, would be better than a large swing in, say, Missouri.

The reason the EC was instituted was to prevent a few large states from de facto controlling the government, and to maximize the chances of a minority party to swing the election, in order to ensure that the President was representative of the people at large, rather than a small but powerful subset of the people. It still serves this purpose, even with the amendment (12?) making President and Vice-President elected on the same ticket having made more than two major parties unstable.

While the Democrats do tend to concentrate on the coasts and Illinois, the Republicans tend to spread their efforts over the rest of the country. This means that most states see at least some campaigning, even if only a half dozen or so are so closely contested as to see major efforts from both parties.

The reason for turning Senators back to the state legislatures is to impose political restraint on the growth of Federal power. It's not an unreasonable suggestion. As it is, the Senate is just the House with longer terms and a larger district.

And I personally don't have a problem with the states picking electors. At least then there'd be a chance that electors would actually take their jobs seriously. As it is they are mostly partisan hacks with no independent sense of their responsibility. I'd be happy to see that fixed. In fact, I'd prefer to see the electors chosen in years when no Federal offices were being filled, and given the responsibility of nominating judges as well as the President. It would make for a more deliberative body generally, and would likely result in better judges and better presidents, overall.

Posted by: Jeff Medcalf at March 4, 2005 06:26 PM

ARE YOU ALL THICK? THIS IS A SMOKESCREEN TO HIDE THE REAL AGENDA; the ISSUE, stoopids, is the internet; i.e. restriction of content and this is the first barrage. Sigh, GOODBYE UNRESTRICTED INTERNET! The Pentagon (your masters) are developing super, super, super computers. Within another decade or so A.I's WILL be able to monitor EVERY internet exchange. Be afraid..."the lunatics have taken over the asylum".

Posted by: Grinna at March 4, 2005 06:51 PM

Jeff covered the demographic ramifications of abandoning the EC.

markus, there'd never be another presidential candidate setting foot in Utah (of all the examples to pick) except to go skiing if there was no electoral college.

They'd never have to travel outside of New York, California, Illinois, Texas, and Florida.

Why do I support the appointment of Senators? Because we've got enough adroit politicians in D.C. now. What we need are working professionals with ability transcending seniority as a prerequisite of service. It's almost impossible to unseat incumbents in either house, but a truly disastrous representative will be canned within two years of becoming apparent; Senators are practically forever with their six year terms.

Posted by: TmjUtah at March 4, 2005 06:52 PM

Jeff Medcalf -- What the Electoral College does do is give the small states THREE ELECTORAL VOTES rather than just ONE. This is the full extent of what they gain from the EC. It is rather minimal. Particularly compared to how important Great Plains and Southern Republican votes would be to Republicans if there was no EC, in which every single vote would count, not just a simple plurality plus one.

"If there were no need to get an electoral majority, there would be no need to focus on states that wouldn't make a difference: the largest population centers would simply overwhelm everyone else."

Eliminating the EC in effect makes the United States ONE LARGE STATE for the purposes of this one election. And both parties would treat it as one large state, and go find their voters WHEREVER THEY MAY BE, which is in fact, EVERYWHERE. You can look at states that mimic the urban/rural divide that exists across the country -- say, Pennsylvania -- and note that candidates for statewide office there ignore none of the counties, whether they are rural or urban or some mix. The same would happen on the national level. A Republican voter on the Upper East Side will be as valuable to the candidate he support as one in Ohio, or as one in Texas. Ditto for a Democrat in Utah.

"For example, if you win 65% of New York City, instead of 60%, you nullify the votes of several small states."

Uh, one man one vote, my friend. And the voters of those "small states" will have their votes counted just like those in NYC.

Posted by: markus rose at March 4, 2005 06:53 PM

TmjUtah -- when was the last time Utah has had a contested Presidential election? And if the answer, as I suspect, is BEFORE YOU AND I WERE BORN, why would a candidate have any reason to go there now?

Posted by: markus rose at March 4, 2005 06:57 PM

I apologize for the concurrent posts, but I keep forgetting to add stuff.

fact is, absent the EC, a Republican presidential candidate would have MORE of an incentive to go to utah or wyoming or idaho, the better to reduce the large plurality dems are likely to run in urban areas. And states like Georgia, Alabama, and Mississsippi, no completely written off by both parties, would likely be courted by both parties -- Repubs trying to increase turnout, the Dems targeting the "black belt" voters.

Posted by: markus rose at March 4, 2005 07:06 PM

Eliminating the EC in effect makes the United States ONE LARGE STATE for the purposes of this one election. And both parties would treat it as one large state, and go find their voters WHEREVER THEY MAY BE, which is in fact, EVERYWHERE.
Yes just like Cook County and Illinois elections?
Don't y'al just love naivity?

They would concentrate on the major metroplitan centers. The Beltway's attitude towards "Flyover Land" would be set in stone. We would have no voice and would just have to go along with what our betters decided for us.

You think the DNC would pay any attention at all to the ignorant red state voters?

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at March 4, 2005 07:27 PM

One Big State, like this?

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at March 4, 2005 07:33 PM

Let's see. We don't want corrupting influences bribing candidates, just like we don't want them bribing elected officials.

So money given to candidates is supposed to be reported. Of course the rules about that gets complicated enough that it takes considerable training for the employees or volunteers who handle contributions or their candidate gets accused of contribution fraud. LaRouche and various other third-party candidates or upstart grassroots candidates have suffered from that.

What about noncash contributions? If you ferry a candidate and his staff around in your private plane so he doesn't need plane tickets, that does him as much good as paying to charter a plane for him. Clearly if you count cash contributions you should count lending planes too.

What if you do unpaid advertising? If you are an advertising firm and you do the advertising campaign for free that the candidate would normally pay millions of dollars for, that's a campaign contribution.

What if you do free advertising the campaign didn't ask for? If you're good at it, you know what's good for them better than they do. Get the job done and save yourself the endless meetings where you advertise the campaign to the customer and listen to his suggestions so you can make minor changes to suit his vanity.

Lots of ways it's even better if you aren't connected to the campaign. Last time around tghe Swift Boat liars got proven to lie about one thing after another and it didn't matter -- nobody cared what sleazebags they were, what mattered was whether they could pin something -- anything -- on Kerry. If they'd been officially part of the Bush campaign they would have made Bush look bad and they'd have had to stop.

Similarly, lots of things bloggers do are things that candidates would gladly pay for. And lots of things bloggers do are more valuable because they aren't paid for. So the same logic would follow, they're making contributions in kind. But how could it possibly be regulated?

Telling bloggers what they can and can't do would be restrictions on free speech, restrictions I see no possible way to justify.

It hardly needs announcing when they support a candidate or interfere in a campaign season -- they can hardly hide it.

It would make sense for bloggers to reveal payments by election workers or I guess anybody else with a political axe to grind, that would be only ethical even if it wasn't required. But what else can be done? I don't see any way to deal with it.

For that matter I don't see any good way to deal with most other contributions in kind. If you make up t-shirts with a witty slogan that help a candidate, and you don't have any contact with the candidate -- you don't get money or contribute money or get a staffer's approval for the design or anything -- what sense does it make to regulate you? And yet, if such things are unregulated they'll wind up as the bulk of the campaigning. Why contact the official election committee where any little slip could land you in court, when you can campaign just as effectively on your own?

It's worth tracking money for candidates and their campaigns because a bribe given to an election committee can be just as much a bribe as one given to the elected official after he's elected. But I don't see how to catch the bribes where they take a little trouble. If you believe in "six degrees of separation" there are way too many methods for anybody to track them. If somebody gives an insider-trading tip to the candidate's brother-in-law, how would anybody know that's a favor the candidate might somehow return later?

Posted by: J Thomas at March 4, 2005 08:14 PM

Markus, may I strongly suggest that you read some good poli-sci books (particularly the ones that take a mathematical approach to the topic), or work on a campaign (staff, not the volunteer cheering section)? It might give you a good feel for how elections really run. Even the gubernatorial election I worked on rather changed my view of politics, and the presidential election was a whole other league. At that level, it becomes like what they say about military campaigns: amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics. It's pretty obvious you've been playing too much with tactics. Fix it and come back; then let's talk.

Posted by: Jeff Medcalf at March 4, 2005 08:45 PM

Ratatosk, I'm interested in your ideas about voting machines. I think there are ways to ameliorate the problems you point out.

This probably isn't the spot to discuss it at length, can you suggest a better place?

Here's my idea -- publish the voter lists and the vote lists, say on the internet. It's secret ballot if nobody knows how the voters match up to the votes, and having the public list of who voted helps cut down on voter fraud. So then for each vote you have two keys, one provided by the voter and one by the multi-part voting machine, and the keys are published with the vote. So the voter can look at the published vote and see his key with his vote and know his vote counted.

Then say your vote was cast wrong, you can challenge it. You point to your vote and they take the machine-key and hand it to the organisation that manages the machines that make the keys (separate from the machine that tracks the votes) and that org uses the key to generate a second key which they hand to the org that tracks the voter lists; they say who has that key. If it isn't you, go to the person they say it is and see if he'll cooperate and say what his key was; if it isn't yours then you aren't the problem.

Three machines with defined interfaces, each of them built by multiple competitors, plugged together in all combinations of vendors. Three organisations with separate databases must cooperate to find out who cast a given ballot. Cheating might look like a system failure instead of a cheat but it won't usually look like everything's right.

Even if you can't prove that your vote was falsified, just having too many voters know that their votes were falsified would have consequences cheaters wouldn't want to face.

Posted by: J Thomas at March 4, 2005 08:47 PM

Nevermind any dilema over Matt's intelligence. The man with a 10,000 watt IQ, George Will, has been on the forefront of this issue since its malformed birth. It took me years to understand his opposition to driver's license registration. His predictions are more accurate than any Wall Street prognosticator's ramblings.

Michael, just because they call it 'reform' doesn't mean they mean it. Modern politics owes its quickening to doublespeak. God rest 'yer soul Mr. Orwell...

Posted by: adamthemadman at March 5, 2005 12:13 AM

President Bush is a brave man. He has taken an unbelievable number of risks. However, I must candidly admit that his signing of the McCain/Feingold bill is a black mark against him. There is no way to get around this fact.

Posted by: David Thomson at March 5, 2005 05:54 AM

I admit this is irritating and important since it reveals the real meaning of McCain/Feingold, but as a reality I suspect the whole blogging aspect is pretty much "The Modem Tax" redux.

Posted by: vanderleun at March 5, 2005 10:32 AM

vanderluen -

I think there's a whole lot of room for selective enforcement here . A federal judge has already directed that bloggers fall under the law - but physically, how will the resources and what will be the focus of prosecution for non-compliance.

A court order cannot be ignored but a prosecutor can say with a straight face "I've put my guys on all the cases we can handle".

I don't care if we've had four years of a Rep executive and AG. The culture of DoJ is entrenched and weighted to the left.

The possibility of that situation arising bothers me almost as much as the anti-free speech aspect.

Posted by: TmjUtah at March 5, 2005 04:50 PM

markus -

"Glad you support State Legislatures selecting Senators. While you're at it, why don't you let them appoint the Electors for the EC, as they did two hundred years ago as well?"

I meant to respond to this directly, but forgot.

The constitution, as agreed upon and ratified by the states, set up the rules for how the different branches of government would be staffed.

Direct election by simple majority for congress.

Appointment, subject to the advice and consent of the senate, for judges.

Each state provides electors, the number of which are defined by the constitution by state, who then cast their ballots in the electoral college per the method dictated by their state laws. Some states split their electors based on the proportion of votes cast for the different candidates. Some don't.

Then there's the dark side of the coin: faithless electors who vote contrary to the results of the popular ballot they are supposed to represent. Nothing criminal there, since there isn't a law against such acts. It happens very rarely, and to my knowledge there has never been a presidential race decided by such an act. But it could happen.

"One man one vote one rule" works great except that if the principle were carried to the limit we could just send the Supreme Court home. Unrestricted democracy is the rule of 51%.

It doesn't work. That's why it took brilliant, committed men literally years to come up with the base document and prinicples upon which our republic was founded.

The following two hundred years and change is ample evidence for a case that democracy, with reasonable and just restraints, works well enough for us to be very leery of attempting sweeping changes without very careful debate and deliberation.

And, strangely enough, there is a mechanism provided for just such an occassion. Right there in the constitution. Just get enough states to sign on, and you can put any amendment you want in the mix.

We'll never see the EC removed by amendment. Small states would be abandoning any hope of representation of their interests in the race for president. If we get a few more Supremes like Kennedy, Breyer, and O'Connor they may well attempt an amendment all by themselves.

And then we'll finally see congress impeach a Justice, an act which to my mind is long overdue.

Posted by: TmjUtah at March 5, 2005 05:28 PM

No limits on contributions.

If some organization or individual wishes to spend millions on a candidate for some reason, maybe its an important reason.

The money is wasted if the candidate is not elected.

Each candidate must have a web site where there would be a finance sections with a nice pie chart or list of top 100 contributors.

Just an idea.

Posted by: Aaron at March 6, 2005 07:41 AM

Well, they've already got me on the Smith Act.

Damn federal government

Posted by: Chase at March 6, 2005 09:03 AM

All finance reform is, has been, and mostly will be, a smokescreen shortcut to the real problem.

Too much power in Washington DC -- especially in the really big, really boring tax code. (anti-statist here.)

Second biggest problem -- gerrymandering of Congressional districts. I hope Arnold has a big enough pair to really push for a better, more "technocratic" solution to the drawing of district boundaries.

Third biggest problem -- no check on the power of a 5 person Supreme Court majority, making up almost any laws they want.

But, given the MF stupid reform, scrapping it, and scrapping ALL restraints on Free Speech, including "hate speech", is the proper response.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at March 6, 2005 09:12 AM

The one thing that you all miss here is another of the real reasons for MF....incumbent protection. Almos all campaign "reform" laws make sense when viewed through the lens of self-interest on the part of those making the laws.

The less money a challenger can spend, the less speech that can occur on one's behalf, the less likely the incumbent will lose.

Posted by: AlanC at March 6, 2005 12:40 PM

Jeff Medcalf --

Thanks for the patrionizing advice. I spent 20 months in the 2000 cycle as a full-time paid employee on four campaigns: one mayoral, one presidential, two targeted congressional...

Now, which of the points I raised in my last post do you specifically take issue with?

Also, when you encourage me to read "some good poli-sci books (particularly the ones that take a mathematical approach to the topic)" perhaps you are referring to this one?:

Why the Electoral College Is Bad for America
by George C. Edwards III
Yale University Press, 2004

from the publisher:
...Drawing on systematic data, Edwards finds that the electoral college does not protect the interests of small states or racial minorities, does not provide presidents with effective coalitions for governing, and does little to protect the American polity from the alleged harms of direct election of the president. In fact, the electoral college distorts the presidential campaign so that candidates ignore most small states and some large ones and pay little attention to minorities, and it encourages third parties to run presidential candidates and discourages party competition in many states...

Posted by: markus rose at March 6, 2005 04:34 PM

Michael J. Totten,

It’s shady when gigantic corporations cut fat checks to political parties and candidates. It’s even shadier when gigantic corporations cut fat checks to both parties at once.

This is illegal. It has been for generations. This is the excuse used to regulate unwanted speech.

Campaign finance reform is the wrong name. A better description of McCain/Feingold is "The incumbent protection act." The fact is that all legislators in both major parties have one thing in common: They have already been elected. A candidate has to dramatically outspend an incumbent to win. Control cash flow and hobble all challengers. There is something that incumbents of both parties can agree.

Posted by: JBP at March 7, 2005 02:21 PM

"Now, which of the points I raised in my last post do you specifically take issue with?"
Posted by markus rose at March 6, 2005 04:34 PM
Now this may not be in your last post but I take issue with this statement.

"Eliminating the EC in effect makes the United States ONE LARGE STATE for the purposes of this one election"

Actually I do believe you ARE correct. It WILL make the US effectively ONE LARGE STATE and from the Democratic view I suppose that would be wonderful, they could dominate national elections just like they dominate Illinois elections with their control of Cook County, but tell me markus?

WHY would the rest of us in Flyover Land wish that outcome?

Here's what you get with One Big State

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at March 7, 2005 05:19 PM

Bush got 45% spread over the entire State Kerry got 55% half of which came from Cook County alone and with the votes from only a dozen and a half counties in addition he would have had enough to win the State.

If the Electoral College is ever dissolved it will be because the Democratic Party Lies long enough and loud enough to trick half the electorate into disinfrachhising themselves.

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at March 7, 2005 05:48 PM

Dan Kauffman -- Unfortunately a lot more people live in Cook County and those few other ones that Kerry won than live in all of those rural counties. Rural counties aren't being disenfranchised, merely outvoted. Although they are disenfranchised by the "winner-take-all" aspect of the EC.

But what makes you think that if the U.S. was one big state for the purpose of the presidential election that the Cook Counties of that state (NYC, LA, Houston, Chicago, etc.) would outvote the rest of America? Bush WON the popular vote, remember?

The interests of both rural and urban American would be better served if they were pooled with the votes of like minded citizens in other states with a popular vote. Under the current winnter-take-all EC, the large pluralities for Republicans in rural areas and the large pluralities for Dems in urban ones are not counted -- since a one vote victory is assigned the same number of electors as a victory of twenty or thirty percentage points.

Posted by: markus rose at March 8, 2005 06:33 AM

-- Unfortunately a lot more people live in Cook County and those few other ones that Kerry won than live in all of those rural counties. Rural counties aren't being disenfranchised, merely outvoted. Although they are disenfranchised by the "winner-take-all" aspect of the EC.
Not as much as with your plan the whole country would be analagous to Illinois a few big states and large metropolitan centers would determine he outcome and the rest of the Nation might as well stay home.

That would be a real boon for the DNC I am not surprised they support it. If they lie long enough and loud enough and have a few more Yale studies with BS in them they might actually convince half of the public which lives in flyover land to commit political suicide you sure are working hard enough to promote it.

Yes the entire nation another example of Cook County domination of Illinois politics where the Party faithful vote early and often and swamp the rest of the State in real and fraudulent votes.

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at March 8, 2005 07:26 PM

Dan -- I repeat: the reason that Cook County dominates Illinois politics is because of the relatively large amount REGISTERED VOTERS WHO GO TO THE POLLS in Cook County compared to the rest of the state. That's called "one-man, one-vote", or "representative democracy."

If you're arguing instead that the only reason Cook County dominates is because of fraud...well, I'd pleased if you'll join me and other reformers in insisting that our one national election is subject to FEDERAL STANDARDS AND OVERSIGHT, rather than the oversight of the sometimes corrupt local and state politicians that run our other elections.

And, also again: the urban Democrat/rural Republican breakdown in Illinois is NOT mirrored in the country as a whole. I repeat: Bush won the popular vote by 3 million votes.

Posted by: markus rose at March 9, 2005 07:19 AM
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