McCain and the Suppresion of Dissent

Anyone who still believes that campaign finance "reform" is really about cleaning up politics rather than protecting incumbents and government entities from challenge and dissent need to read George Will's column this week.

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of association, "the right of
the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a
redress of grievances." The exercise of this right often annoys
governments, and the Parker Six did not know that Colorado's
government, perhaps to discourage annoyances, stipulates that when two
or more people associate to advocate a political position, and spend
more than $200 in doing so, they become an "issue committee."

As such, they probably should hire a lawyer because even Colorado's
secretary of state says the requirements imposed on issue committees
are "often complex and unclear." Committees must register with the
government; they must fund their activities from a bank account opened
solely for that purpose; they must report to the government the names
and addresses of all persons who contribute more than $20; they must
also report the employers
of plutocrats who contribute more than $100; they must report non-cash
contributions such as lemons used for lemonade, and marker pens and
wooden dowels for yard signs.

McCain-Feingold makes it impossible for me to vote for McCain.  Of course, other such issues make it impossible for me to vote for the other two yahoos either.  Siqh.


  1. Rob:

    Yah, McCain is also taking heat for acquiring a loan with the intentions of getting public funds for backing.

    And doesn't Obama gain monetary value from Oprah's endorsement?

    How about Hilary Clinton's campaign finance fraud? She's going to be testifying by year's end!

    I guess it's ok to bend the rules for these guys/gals?!?!?

  2. CJ:

    I'm seriously considering writing in Batman.

  3. tim:

    How does it happen that the republicans nominate McCain when 25% of republicans(from what I understand) claim that they will never vote for him. How did the repubicans depart so radically from what Ronnie Reagan was all about if they are so busy trying to BE him still... And why does the concept of libertarianism have so little traction...

    I will never vote for that rat bastard. I am writing in Ron Paul.

  4. John Moore:

    Suck it up, folks, and vote for McCain anyway.
    I am a conservative Arizonan who has never voted for McCain in a primary, and who is not very fond of him, but:

      I'm sick of the whining!

    His political history has some big faults (McCain-Feingold, Sarbanes-Oxley), but in comparison to the alternative...

    Not voting for McCain is casting half a vote for either Hillary or Obama. Do you really want to vote for them?

    Representative democracy rarely provides us with an ideal or even near ideal candidate. So we can either vote for the less of evils or not vote, essentially voting for the greater of evils.

    How many people on this board truly believe that McCain is no better than Obama or Hillary on issues of liberty, the size of government, and the defense of America?

    Yeah, he screwed up big time on McCain-Feingold, and that's a shame. It is terrible law. It's a sign of his character - he is concerned about honor to a fault, and in this case, beyond reason.

    But shall we look at the character of the others? Both are serial liars, with no concept of honor. Obama is a naif who doesn't have a clue about American values, but has lots of history associating himself with bad ideas and people with bad ideas. Hillary... does anyone really need reminding about her?

    Beyond that, who is sitting on the benches to fill the 3,000 high level political appointees in our government? Would you like to choose from the leftists greenie loons on the Democrat team, or the conservatives, neo-cons, and libertarians on the Republican team?

  5. Phil:

    Coyote, why don't you vote for the person that, of the three, you find to be the lesser evil? You did that in 2004, when you cast in your lot with Patriot Act Bush.

  6. Tom G:

    I don't plan to vote at all this year - unless the LP gets its act together behind a candidate who isn't afraid of its original platform (and yes, that counts out Bob Barr).
    Coyote, there are many respected radical libertarians (or anarchists if you insist) who feel voting at all is immoral. Check out what Wendy McElroy has to say on the subject, for instance. She's far from the only one.

    Sorry, but if I have to hold my nose in order to vote...then I won't do it.

  7. I_am_a_lead_pencil:

    John said:

    "Representative democracy rarely provides us with an ideal or even near ideal candidate. So we can either vote for the less of evils or not vote, essentially voting for the greater of evils."

    What does this say about representative democracy?

  8. Ummm:

    Everyone just vote libertarian. The three candidates are all pretty bad and every vote counts. There are some good candidates this year, that could garner a significant amount of votes.

  9. Matt:

    Bob Barr? Are they serious? The "win the war on drugs by 2002" guy? The Defense of Marriage Act guy? I know he's changed a lot of his views since then, but can't they find someone with a better track record?

  10. Jay:

    "Representative democracy rarely provides us with an ideal or even near ideal candidate. So we can either vote for the less of evils or not vote, essentially voting for the greater of evils."

    John, what do you reckon the probability is that one vote swings an election? I think it is better characterized as you either waste your time and money to go vote, or do more productive things with your life and sit back as all the irrational people flock to the polls.

  11. John Moore:

    The odds of one vote swinging elections is low. But that logic to justify a absolutely inconsequential vote is really saying that voting is a useless exercise. And if you say that, why should anyone care about your opinion or why should any politician have your interests in mind. You have opted out of the decision process.

    It's sort of like a tragedy of the commons thing. For any individual, not voting is the optimal thing to do. But if everyone does it, the system doesn't work. That democracy fundamentally rests on citizens taking on a responsibility (voting) that is not in their individual interest.

    For libertarians, you have to decide what's more important. If it's sexual liberties, go for the dems. If its economic liberties, go for the republicans. If its national defense, go for the repubs. If you are paranoid about the Patriot Act or the NSA "domestic" (really, international) monitoring, go for the dems (but I'd love to have a chance to tell you why that paranoia is a mistake). If you're scared of the religious right, don't be. They aren't into creating a theocracy, they just vote with their moral beliefs (like anyone who has moral beliefs, which is most folks).

    If its free speech, it's a tossup, although in the long run, I think the repubs win out (except for obscene expression). The dems will try to re-enact the "fairness doctrine," which will shut down all dissenting voices on the airways. They will also expand hate speech laws (see Canadian Civil Rights commissions), and generally muzzle us the way they do now in places where they have the power (schools and universities). They will appoint justices who believe "social justice" trumps the "living constitution."

    If you vote for the libertarian in a consequential race, you throw your vote away.

    My approach is to vote for the libertarian for local offices where I don't know anything about the candidates and they don't matter much - usually state mine inspector. That registers a protest without throwing away my vote where it does matter. I then vote for the republican for anything that counts, because I have yet to see a case where the democrat (of the choices I have had available) was preferable.

  12. M. Hodak:

    I really like the hubris of people who don't want to "waste their vote" on a third party candidate, as if the election really hangs on how they're going to vote.

    Unfortunately libertarians are never going to be taken seriously until they show that they can deliver some poll numbers or $$, but most of us don't like any politicians enough to pay give them another dollar, or are too rational to waste our time with voting. Democracy really favors the loudmouths, busybodies, and narcissists.

  13. John Moore:

    M Hodak,

    Of course the election probably doesn't hang on one vote. Your argument strongly supports the proposition that nobody should vote at all!

    Apparently you didn't follow my logic on why you should vote. Please read it again.

    A libertarian candidate has only one electoral effect: to reduce the votes of the main party candidate who appears closest to the views of the libertarian. So unless you truly believe that the major party candidates are exactly equal from your viewpoint, you are cutting off your nose to spite your face!

    By analogy, Ralph Nader cost Gore the election, in the following sense: his voters would almost surely have voted for Gore over Bush, had Nader not been in the race. It is less clear with Perot in 1992, but probably he cost GHWB the election.

    As for libertarians, they will never be taken seriously as long as they insist on pure libertarian policies, because those policies are too utopian to work - just as pure marxist policies will work.

    Libertarian principles need to be a guideline to policy, not an actual policy position.

    It's no accident that the Libertarian party is a bad joke. It's no accident that Barry Goldwater, the most libertarian of serious presidential candidates in memory, ran as a Republican.

    BTW, when I was young and foolish, I used to be a registered Libertarian. Then I looked at just their foreign policy and realized they were utterly clueless.

  14. Craig:

    I hate McCain-Feingold as much as anyone else, but, in all fairness, the above story has to do with a Colorado law.

  15. Anonymous:

    Sorry, but the First Amendment guarantees are worthless. Congress with the complicity of the Supremes has successfully changed the First Amendment "shall make no law" into "make some laws" without actually having to go to the trouble of amending the Constitution.

  16. Mesa Econoguy:

    Don’t blame me.

    I’m proactively (again) voting for Darth Vader.


    You guys are screwed.

  17. Anonymous:

    C.J got it right!!
    write in ron paul...fact is a vote for any of the three stooges sends this great country further down the toilet.


  18. Umm:

    I don't think voting libertarian is a waste. The LP doesn't have to win the election. Just by garnering a significant amount of votes will give it more legitimacy.

    Especially when all three candidates are such poor choices for a libertarian. I dislike Bob Barr as much as the next libertarian, but all the other candidates are vastly better than any of the three from the two main parties.

    It is the general belief that the libertarian party is a joke and could never be a significant party that truly hamstrings the party more than any failing of the party itself. It has libertarians electing not to vote libertarian and actually trying to decide between Obama/Clinton or McCain!!!!!! If all of you can help the LP just get 5-7% of the popular vote. It would help out the cause immensely.

    It could help make the marginal person notice and try to understand the LP message. Voting between O/C and MC is the real waste of a vote if you consider yourself libertarian or even conservative

  19. John Moore:

    I think most people understand enough about the libertarian message by now - after all, lots of folks heard Ron Paul. And most people thought his policies supremely foolish, which they are.

    Libertarians have been saying the same thing as Umm for decades. I remember these arguments in the early '70s. It hasn't worked, because the message of the Libertarians is simply not appealing to most people.

    Libertarians have been far more successful by joining the liber-con wing of the Republicans, where they could actually influence thinking and policy in a libertarian direction.

    Furthermore, even getting 5-7% of the popular vote wins you no points. It just wins you lots of angry conservatives and liber-cons who see a leftist get in power because of the libertarian's endless quest for the perfect candidate.

    John McCain is no libertarian. No question about that. But he's a heck of a lot closer to it than the Dems.

    Conservatives believe in individual responsibility, individual choice and limited government (GWB to the contrary on the latter). Not as much choice as libertarians, but a lot more than the left.

    The left believes in the state as the supreme decision maker, run by wiser leftist elites who will take us towards utopia by forcing us to fall into their mold. Their fascist tendencies are far stronger than those of the religious right.

    So vote libertarian, help the left-fascists. Your choice, our loss.

  20. Keith:

    M. Hodak stated, "I really like the hubris of people who don't want to "waste their vote" on a third party candidate, as if the election really hangs on how they're going to vote."

    Please remember that votes wasted on a third party candidate gave us eight years of the Clintons. The 1992 election ended up as: Clinton 43%, Bush 37%, Perot 19%.