The Potemkin Convention

032002, story, campaign finance reform,soft money, senate vote JM
When I heard that John Kerry may delay accepting his party's presidential nomination until a month or so after its convention in order to get around campaign laws and spend more on his campaign, my question was: Are these people nuts?

While Republicans are trying to paint Kerry as a tricky politician who comes down on every side of every issue, why would Democrats come up with a scheme that allows the Republicans to say, `Only John Kerry could be for a nominating convention and against a nomination'?

But the other question is, if this kind of thing is possible under the current law -- and it is -- isn't it time to junk the whole system we use to select candidates? We've added so many loopholes to campaign laws that we really have no campaign laws. Anything goes. All sides know it and use that to their advantage. Laws designed to reduce the cost of campaigns and give average voters a voice in the process have had a wildly opposite effect. Why not go back to the old way? Forget these primaries, which is where all the money goes. Let candidate selection begin at the precincts and be settled at the national conventions, the way we used to do it.

I know: You're saying we'd be back to letting party bosses pick the candidates and their influence would increase. But I also know this: The old way was more fun, cost a lot less money and people, average voters, actually had a voice in it. And the old way found us some pretty good candidates. Does anyone believe the current system produces better ones? I don't.

By Bob Schieffer