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Friday, July 29, 2005

A Progressive Speaks Sense to Advocates on Campaign Finance Reform's Fundamental Flaw

Bob Bauer is that rare bird in contemporary American politics - a progressive who understands the intrinsic flaws in the reliance on government action that typifies the Left's approach to public policy. It's doubtful that his wisdom is going to be received today as he speaks to the American Constitution Society on why Progressives should oppose campaign finance reform.

He has posted his text on his blog and I heartily commend it to everybody who cares about the cultivation of civil discourse on public policy issues. Bauer is a thoughtful guy who deserves serious and sustained attention.

Readers of Bauer's text will encounter these paragraphs:

"Yet the expenditure of resources is a measure of intensity, and it is not, as the examples suggest, weaponry monopolized by any one side. It is in this way that campaign finance reform ideology betrays its Progressive—and I would say, regressive—roots.
"As the quite Left late historian Christopher Lasch wrote, Progressive reformers seek to manage all competition, including political competition, and to render it orderly and manageable.
"Progressive reform thinking values "efficiency, rationality and uniform standards"; it believes that there is a truth, largely accessible only to experts, and it holds that all socially useful endeavors, including politics, should be professionalized so that objective solutions can be devised for objectively ascertainable problems..."
"Just as reformers believe that the use of money to influence politics is crudely beyond the pale, so they believe that the style of communication in rough-and-tumble politics, financed with this money, fails the test of rational, orderly and properly informed argumentation."

In other words, campaign finance reform regulation's purpose is to insure that political speech conforms to the regulators' vision of what should be said in political debate. Bauer does not mention it, but let's not miss it here - The notion that only the "experts" should be able to decide what is and is not permissible political speech is precisely contrary to the First Amendment and to the fundamental concept of democratic accountability.

Or to put it more simply - campaign finance reform is the Left's tool for replacing democracy with the aristocracy of expertise.

HT to Scepticseye.com for pointing out Bauer's text.