Bret Hrbek

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March Madness in the Senate
Debate was settled with the 1st Amendment

By Bret Hrbek



March Madness is almost over.  No, I don't mean the NCAA basketball tournament (Go Terps!).  I mean the so-called campaign finance reform bill working its way through the holiest of holy sites in the United States:  the U.S. Senate Chamber.

I am constantly amazed how the elite of this country continue to impress themselves.  The biggest news over the past week is how impressed the media and the senators have been about having a good old-fashioned debate. They're actually debating!  Congratulations to them.  The tide has turned and the bitterness is over.  Civility reigns.  We should get down on our knees and thank the Lord Almighty for ending the petty, partisanship of the most exclusive club in the world.  The Senate has come together to debate an issue.  We should be proud.


The media missed the problem.  The Senate is debating an undebatable issue. The very fact that the Senate has taken up the McCain-Feingold bill is a disgrace.  Over 200 years ago our founders had this debate and the result was the First Amendment to the Constitution.  Our current leadership seems to have forgotten this.

The right to freely petition and lobby our government, the right to think and express those views are the most fundamental rights a person can have. Hence, the first Congress made it the first constitutional amendment. Without the right to petition our government we can forget the right to bear arms, a speedy trial, reasonable doubt before conviction and MTV Spring Break every day, all day throughout the spring.

The McCain-Feingold legislation is the elite's way to return us to the aristocracy of inherited wealth, not a society run by those who actually work.

True campaign finance reform would reinforce our rights to petition our government not regulate our ability to do so.

So let me take just a few points and demonstrate:

1.    Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) and their fellow socialists want to ban soft money.  (Soft money is money, which flows into political parties and issue advocacy groups unregulated by Uncle Sam.) In other words, McCain, Feingold & Co. want to know who you're supporting and by how much so when they win they can use the heavy-hand of government to retaliate.  They do not want you to contribute to causes you believe in without their stamp of approval.  Mr. Stalin your table.

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2.    Our senators want to require television stations to give them reduced sales charges for campaign ads.  Joe Smith's Car Dealership pays full price for the ad, but Joe Smith for Congress gets a discount.  Hmmm. NBC just became a new public broadcasting station.

3.    Liberals believe that money corrupts politics and that's why there must be a limit to the amount an individual can contribution to a candidate. But if a poorer candidate who must fundraise runs against a self-financing candidate, they want contribution limits to increase.  So in their minds, the money a candidate raises against Steve Forbes or John Corzine is less corrupting than money raised to run against some poor shmuck.

4.    These heaven-sent angels on high also don't believe that individuals should be able to attack a candidate within 60 days of an election.  That should speak for itself.

True campaign finance reform would return our First Amendment rights back to us.  We would repeal the Federal Election Commission.  We would repeal the limits on contributions and we would not require public disclosure of

But what about the buying of our leaders by the evil corporate powers or by foreign governments?  When allegations of foreign contributions or bribery arose, the Justice Department could then begin an investigation.  Those
found guilty should be prosecuted.

But this irresponsible legislation says to the world our leaders can't be trusted.  If laws to curtail our ability to monetarily support a candidate aren't on the books they might accept a bribe.  Shame on them.  They are denying us our First Amendment rights to free speech because they don't trust themselves.

Anyone who votes for this so-called campaign finance reform deserves to be voted out of office.  This vote should hang like a scarlet letter letting all who see and hear them know that they can't be trusted to hold the position charged to them.  But if this bill, more accurately called the Incumbent Protection Act, becomes law, don't count on it.  Strom Thurmond won't hold the record of longest-serving senator for long.

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Bret Hrbek, 2001, All rights reserved.

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