One of the greatest things about the United States is the First Amendment right to the freedom of speech. It is central to everything that is American.
Regardless of ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, you have have the right to say your opinions in America.
Simple enough, right? Wrong.
It is becoming evident that the ability to voice your opinion in this country and have it mean something is directly related to the amount of money available to you.
Time and time again we have seen how money is used to open doors and capture the ears of the most powerful people in this country. Money talks, and for the most part people with influence over the way the country runs are eager to listen.
That is why this week and the next are so important. Campaign finance reform is being openly debated in the Senate, with the hopes that the McCain-Feingold-Cochran bill will ban all unregulated donations, also known as soft money, to political parties.
Getting the corrupting influence of money out of politics is a popular sentiment among the citizenry, with 71 percent saying they support McCain?s bill in a recent MSNBC poll. But is McCain?s bill good for our democracy?
In an editorial in Newsweek George F. Will attempts to answer this question by arguing that ?McCainism? ? a ?banal and muddle-headed populism? ? is meant to attack the First Amendment by advocating ?speech rationing by the multiplication of government-imposed limits on the right of individuals and groups to spend money for the dissemination of political speech.?
In other words, spending gross amounts of money in support of a party?s political agenda is a form of speech and thus is protected under the First Amendment. Will makes it clear that the factions, which McCain labels ?special interests,? are in fact a healthy and useful device in our democracy. He fears that limiting the speech of these factions will mean the end of the greatest experiment in human history.
Money equals a voice. And in politics the more money you have to spend, the more of a voice you are allowed.
But shouldn?t there be some reprieve for those of us that do not have the money to buy politicians?
There should be and that is why now is the time for reform. McCain?s bill is a good start, because it will give those of us who do not have million-dollar portfolios the chance to exercise our political voices in the truest sense of democracy.
After all, democracy is rule by the people. All of them.
McCain?s bill is not the final answer in the struggle to clear away the corruption that has become so inherent in politics. More research needs to be done to look into the possible effects of a complete ban on soft money.
If it is shown that there are more positives results from McCain?s bill than negatives ones then it should be passed. If not, then the Senate?s two-week debate could result in the loss of the fundamental American right to support our elected officials.