Incumbent Protection Act

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on October 3, 2006

We're currently in the middle of the blackout period. What's that, you ask? It's the 60 days before the general election when groups are banned from naming candidates for federal office by name by the McCain-Feingold act. It's the reason you don't see ads by the NRA or ACLU encouraging you to contact your congressman or senator to protest against this or that.

The only thing more disgusting about McCain-Feingold, also known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, is the fact that President Bush signed the thing and that the Supreme Court was too blinkered to strike it down. The BCRA restricts the speech that was once believed to have the most protection from the constitution: political speech. Nowadays the "speech" with the most protection is flag-burning and nude dancing.

Unfortunately, BCRA is part of a trend to silence not only those who oppose certain incumbents, but also those who have the gall to oppose government actions, as a Newsweek column by George Will aptly points out.

In Florida, a businesswoman ceased publication of her small-town newspaper rather than bear compliance costs imposed by that state's speech police. Even though the Wakulla Independent Reporter contained community news and book reviews as well as political news and editorials, state campaign regulators declared it an "electioneering communication" in league with certain candidates, and ordered her to register with, and file regular reports to, the government.

This is the America produced by "reformers" led by John McCain. The U.S. Supreme Court, in affirming the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold speech restrictions, advocated deference toward elected officials when they write laws regulating speech about elected officials and their deeds. This turned the First Amendment from the foundation of robust politics into a constitutional trifle to be "balanced" against competing considerations -- combating the "appearance of corruption," or elevating political discourse or something. As a result, attempts to use campaign regulations to silence opponents are becoming a routine part of vicious political combat.

Will gives other examples of the use of campaign-finance laws to silence opposition. If there's one reason why John McCain should never become president, then this is it. It should come as little surprise that politicians aren't all that interested in what their constituents have to say, but what's worse is that we let them get away with it.

0 comments on “Incumbent Protection Act”

  1. I don't know if you noticed this, but when Rush Limbaugh had Speaker Hastert on his show, and asked the Speaker questions from the viewpoint of "OK, how does the GOP retain the house?", it sent a message that Rush Limbaugh now has a dog in this fight. Should the GOP retain the House, it will be in large measure due to Rush and the way he can get his large audience to take action.

    What does this have to do with McCain-Finegold, you ask? Quite simply, it means that that rancid act may soon become moot. You see, once the GOP retains the House, Limbaugh (and by extension, Clear Channel Communications) will be looking to call a certain marker. That marker would most certainly involve removing ANY sort of threat that the FCC can levy in response to complaints about too much politicking going on the airwaves. You can expect Salem Communications (employer of one Hugh Hewitt) to push even harder for this.

  2. Amen, Matthew! Campaign Finance Reform is by far the most toxic change in our government in a century, and while Bush and SCOTUS are equally culpable, it earns McCain my everlasting hatred. I, libertarian conservative, would vote for Hillary before I'd vote for that man.

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