McCain-Feingold is a Disaster

The results are in, and they were entirely predictable. McCain-Feingold has been a disaster. Its restrictions have in no way decreased the amount of money being spent in this election. Rather, it has funneled huge amounts of money into negative advertising attacking a person or position (legal) and away from supporting and illuminating the positives of candidates (illegal). It has shifted money from groups with high disclosure requirements (the political parties and candidates) and dumped it into groups with no reporting requirements.

Most troubling, it has created a Federal Bureaucracy around deciding what political speech is legal and what is illegal. Is advertising Fahrenheit 9/11 legal? Is a 60 minutes anti-Bush documentary using forged documents illegal? Is an anti-Kerry documentary by Sinclair illegal? As Jonathon Rauch puts it in Reason:

Now it is official: The United States of America has a federal bureaucracy in charge of deciding who can say what about politicians during campaign season. We can argue, and people do, about whether this state of affairs is good or bad, better or worse than some alternative. What is inarguable is that America now has what amounts to a federal speech code, enforced with jail terms of up to five years.

This is perhaps the worst assault on the first amendment since campus speech codes. Where is the ACLU? Oh yeah, they supported McCain-Feingold.


Another interesting article about the Sinclair situation here.