Campaign Reform Bill More Bad Than Good
Letter to the editor
In response to the staff editorial on campaign finance (“A Win for Democracy,” April 1), I would argue that President Bush’s signing of the “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002,” is anything but a win.
First, the bill bans soft-money contributions to political parties but it does not restrict soft-money from going to special interest groups such as the Sierra Club. This means that more money will now flow to these groups which have much looser contribution restrictions than political parties and which are far less accountable to voters than political campaigns and parties. The bill will forbid political organizations from airing “issue ads” for 60 days preceding elections. Presumably, this rule will effectively prevent large unions and corporations from excessively bashing those candidates who oppose their interests. But these restrictions do not apply to the media—and since incumbents have much more access to the media than challengers, this provision of the bill unduly favors those in office while stifling the efforts of grass roots campaigns.
Finally, while both large corporations and individuals have the ability to contribute money directly to political campaigns, only large, wealthy corporations have money enough to hire lobbyists to promote their interests in Washington. With a ban on soft money contributions to campaigns, corporations will likely take the money they would have donated to the campaigns and instead dump it into their already large lobbying efforts, something the individual donor cannot do.
Even with all discussion of constitutionality aside, this bill is a step in the wrong direction. In attempting to regulate the flow of money into political campaigns, it will strengthen the ability of corporations, unions, and special interest groups to influence the political process while decreasing the clout of the average citizen. On top of that, it will favor incumbents at the expense of grass roots campaigns. These effects are the exact opposites of the goals of campaign finance legislation and, sadly, losses for democracy and the democratic process.
Matthew R. Ciardiello ’04
April 2, 2002