Dan Rather On Campaign Finance Reform

Campaign finance reform is dead. The Republicans killed it.

Everybody knows money [much of it dirty money in one way or another] is polluting American electoral politics.

Special interest money pours into campaigns, local, state and national, in huge, unprecedented amounts. The amount of money and the amount of influence it buys has grown every year, in my lifetime and yours.

Big corporations, big unions, big sociological and religious movements, and perhaps most ominously, foreign money is pipelined into election campaigns. What it buys is at least access, access to decision-makers, often more than that-influence, a lot of influence-and, more often than most people know, it outright buys laws or the killing of laws.

What happens at the local level, around City Halls and County Courthouses, is, in many cases, totally out of hand, out of control. Ditto what happens in state legislatures...even more so.

Little or no effort has been or is being made to do anything about that...at the local and state level.

There has been an effort to do something, not a whole lot, frankly, but at least something...at the national level. Election races for the House, the Senate, and the Presidency.

That's what died today, because it was killed. A watered-down campaign finance reform bill had been introduced into the Senate. Republicans killed it. They did so for one reason: they believe, with considerable justification, that they are better at raising money than Democrats.

They traditionally have raised more. And looking ahead, they like their chances in the future to raise even more, to increase the gap between what they raise and what the Democrats can raise.

So, they did not want campaign finance reform. One may argue, with some justification, that many Democrats didn't want it either. But it is not partisan to say that it wasn't Democrats who killed this campaign finance reform effort, it was Republicans.

When they were in power in the Congress, Democrats didn't try to reform finance for campaigns. Then, they thought they had the whip hand. Now it's Republicans...so it's their responsibility.

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