Tuesday, May 02, 2006

John McCain takes on Free Speech

I love John McCain. I've talked to people across the political spectrum who said they would vote for the guy if he ran for President. I probably would too, because I feel like he believes what he's saying, and he seems like a reasonable guy. But there is one issue on which I completely disagree with him. John McCain happens to be the McCain of the McCain-Feingold Act which severely limits the amount of money an individual or corporate entity can give to a political candidate or party, as well as regulating campaign finance and political advertising in new and interesting ways. This raises all sorts of free speech concerns, since supporting candidates with which one agrees is an essential form of political expression. How can John McCain justify significantly infringing on my first amendment rights just to "get the money out of politics"?

Turns out John McCain has slightly different priorities than the U.S. Constitution. In a radio interview with Don Imus McCain stated his preference in unambiguous terms:

“He [talk show host Michael Graham] also mentioned my abridgement of First Amendment rights, i.e. talking about campaign finance reform….I know that money corrupts….I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I’d rather have the clean government.”

So McCain sees clean government as more important than respecting first amendment rights. I guess I don't really want to argue with him about it. My question is this: If he runs for President and I vote for him, is he (as President) going to make any progress on further stripping my right to free speech? Or is he going to busy with other stuff? As I say, this issue is my only real beef and if I thought he was going to spend his time fixing social security, balancing the budget or engaging in astute foreign policy I probably wouldn't worry about it.


Orrin Johnson said...

I also really like McCain, mostly because I think he would be the most effective terrorist killer of anyone currently "in the running". He's also the only one I believe when he talks about getting tough on government spending. But this (and a couple other) issues really bug the hell out of me.

The only regulation I want to see on "money in government" is transparency. In a way, McCain-Feingold did that because all the money had to be sent to independant 527 groups who (unfortunately for the Democrats) allowed the discourse and aims of the groups to be much more honest. (I love MoveOn.Org - they do more to turn voters off from liberals than any conservative group could ever dream of doing.)

But McCain now attacks the 527s as a back door, and wants to heavily regulate them, too. And after these "reform" measures have already been used to stifle dissenting political activism by grossly expanding the definition of "contribution" here in Seattle, I just can't trust where this is going.

And McCain is making some other political mistakes. He's co-sponsoring a 1986 illegal immigrant amnesty redux with Ted Kennedy. I'd really like to know what kind of judges he intends on appointing - I have a feeling (based on very little, to be fair) that he will appoint Republicans instead of judicial conservatives. And I think he's so in love with his maverick image that he goes against the grain just to do it, even when it's philosophically inconsistent. He's a pragmatist, which I don't think is all bad, but can be a bit dangerous, too.

I like McCain. I have an unbelievable amount of respect for him. He will scare terrorists, and fight this war more aggressively. I think he will be a far better leader of Congress (on budget issues in particular) than President Bush could ever dream of being. And he can beat any Democrat, which matters. I plan on voting for him, but not as enthusiastically as I would have in 2000.

Cato said...

Hear hear--that last sentence summed up my feelings exactly.

PubliusRex said...

Between McCain-Feingold and his sponsorship of the brain dead "Illegal Immigration Reward and Encouragement Act" (IIREA), McCain has definitely jumped the shark. This is the predictable and sad result that is the product of a politician who cares more about continuing to be Mr. Popular and "the Maverick" than he does about adhering to any principles.