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The Therapy Sessions
Friday, January 16, 2004

Proving campaign finance assumptions wrong

The underlying assumption of the wretched McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Law was that "special interests" find candidates they like, plow money into their campaigns and make them unbeatable.

In other words, support follows money: people are just sheep, and their votes are easily herded into position by spin doctors and political TV ads. Based on this preconception, Congress thought it was a jolly idea to regulate political speech (who cares what the Constitution says about such things?).

After all, the people had to have a chance to be heard!

On the assumption that support follows money, John Kerry seemed unbeatable in early 2003. He had the funds (and a fortune to tap), a lead, name recognition and many leading Democrats had endorsed him. He was the party's candidate.

Then came Howard Dean. Dean raised more money than anyone - using grassroots internet fundraising techniques.

It seemed - for a few seconds - that reformers might admit their error and correct it: Hey! Maybe candidates get money because people feel they are saying the right things and have a good chance of winning?

Nah, the talking heads just kept making assumptions. The newest was that Dean - with his funds - was now unbeatable. With his money lead, he would be able to buy support.

People are just sheep, right?

Then along comes this: Race Tightens in Iowa and Dean Looks Beatable.

Somehow, the reformers will spin this as proof that more reforms are needed.

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