The BCRA (Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act), better known as McCain-Feingold, struck at the heart of the First Amendment by making it illegal to mention incumbent Congressmen by name in articles or ads within 60 days of an election. It’s clearly in violation of the spirit and intent of the First Amendment, but it has the effect of protecting and insulating congressional incumbents from criticism.
All the campaign finance reform stuff was a complicated smokescreen that hasn’t worked out as it was supposed to. But it served it’s purpose, which was to muddy the water and have a chilling effect on criticism of Congress when it’s members are most vulnerable, during election campaigns, making members less answerable to the people.
George W. Bush picks his fights very carefully when it comes to taking on Congress, and this is not a fight he wanted to get into. He passed on his opportunity to veto this bill and signed it into law. Perhaps he thought the Supreme Court would bail him out and rule the legislation unconstitutional.
But the Supreme Court picks its fights carefully, too, and apparently didn’t feel very feisty in this case. They ruled that BCRA was constitutional and let the law stand, despite the obvious First Amendment prohibition.
We, the American people, were betrayed by all three branches of the government! Checks and balances didn’t work in this case.
As a result, Congress is no longer accountable to the people. Once they’re in, they’re in for the long haul. And a Congress that isn’t accountable is corruptible, and this Congress is no exception. They’re lined up at the pig trough and they’re ready to feast and dine on pork. They view the American Taxpayer as a vast herd of dairy cows that they’re ready to milk for all they’re worth.
So we have a Congress that will pass laws that benefit Congress, not the people. We have an Executive that will veto legislation that threatens the power of the executive, but not fight for the rights of the people, and a Supreme Court that isn’t really interested.
Our only recourse now is to push for repeal of BCRA. It’ll be a hard sell to Congress because it’s obviously not in their interest. But it’s something we should work for.
Another thing we need to do is enact term limits on Congress. We have term limits for the Executive Branch and we certainly need them for Congress, to prevent the entrenched career politicians from retaining their deathgrip on power, particularly the power they have over the mountain of money they have at their disposal, which is the main reason they’re so corruptible. We need to limit the tenure of tax-and-spend Democrats and spend-and-spend Republicans who’ve betrayed our trust.
While we’re at it, we should enact term limits on Supreme Court justices, too. That might have the effect of making confirmation hearings less of a circus than the death matches that they’ve turned into in recent years.