Changing the rules to suit their opportunistic needs
By Frank Salvato
Now comes word that Congressional Democrats are considering placing curbs on 527s, those shadowy soft-money groups that inundated the radio and television airwaves with propaganda ads during the last few election cycles. One has to wonder why Democrats would want to place curbs on organizations such as MoveOn.org and America Coming Together, two ultra Progressive-Liberal 527s that have completely toed the DNC line since their inception. The answer is that the 527 political playing field is starting to level and liberals know that in a fair and factual fight they always get slaughtered.
527 groups, named after a section of the Internal Revenue Service code that addresses organizations established to influence elections, are not regulated by the Federal Election Commission nor are they subjected to the same contribution limits as Political Action Committees. In that respect, and in reality, these groups circumvent any campaign finance reforms and deal in the unregulated funding of ideologically driven non-governmental political organizations.
Groups such as MoveOn.org, America Coming Together, The Media Fund and Emily's List – all Progressive-Liberal and Liberal leaning organizations – raised a combined $158.2 million for use during the 2004 election cycle. By comparison, Conservative leaning 527 groups like Progress for America, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the Club for Growth raised $85.6 million. This works out to an almost 50% advantage for Democratic candidates in the 2004 election cycle.
But, an examination of each side's biggest 527 benefactors of 2004 with regard to the 2006 non-presidential election cycle presented quite a different story. America Coming Together – the Progressive-Left's "top gun" in 2004 – raised approximately $4.5 million while the Conservative group Progress for America raised approximately $6.2 million.
The catalyst for this sudden bout of "civic responsibility" from the left side of the aisle where campaign finance is concerned becomes blatantly transparent when the numbers are crunched. On the issue of exploiting the fundraising abilities of 527 groups, the Republicans figured out the Democratic game plan and are starting to beat them at their own game and Democrats simply cannot have that.
The answer for Democrats now that their 527 political advantage is waning is to place limitations on 527 soft-money, something they can now do legislatively thanks to the many Conservatives who opted to "protest vote" by avoiding the polls last November.
The politicos of the liberal left have completely sucked the marrow from the bone rendering it useless for anyone else; corrupting what should have been a legitimate avenue for groups of concerned Americans to champion important causes. But they didn't simply deplete and corrupt the resource; they are actively looking for ways to keep their detractors from benefiting from that which they have already reaped the benefits of.
It needs to be noted that throughout the 109th Congress, Democrats strenuously opposed any curbs on 527 activities at all. This was before the playing field was noticed to be leveling.
This politically opportune behavior is reprehensible enough but apparently, just when you think it can't get any worse…it can.
Illinois' embarrassment of a senator, Dick Durbin is set to introduce legislation that would provide public funding for candidates who qualify. You remember Dick, he's the guy who said our military personnel were tantamount to the Nazis and the genocidal maniacs of Pol Pot's regime, their detention centers akin to Soviet gulags. His legislation will be unveiled in mid-March along side similar legislation by Massachusetts Representative John Tierney. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi supports the legislation as do Representatives David Obey of Wisconsin and Barney Frank, also of Massachusetts.
The idea that the political left in this country would render ineffective publicly funded political organizations where the American citizenry gets to choose whether or not to contribute in deference to a mandated use of taxpayer money for funding political campaigns is a testimony to the limits of their entitlement tyranny. Once again, Democrats are advancing their belief that it is better for government to choose for the people rather than affording the people a choice in government.
Not only is extracting monies from the taxpayer base for political purposes literally forced participation in the political process, logic mandates that if taxpayer money is distributed equitably among all the candidates then all taxpayers are subsidizing the candidates they would ultimately be voting against.
While proponents of a taxpayer funded political campaign system may insist that it affords each prospective candidate a fair shot at being considered for office it needs to be pointed out that being fairly considered for office is what the signature threshold for nominating petitions is all about. After that, if a candidate can't raise enough cash to compete it is most likely that their message isn't any good or that their ability to communicate is deficient.
Skeptics – or Progressive-Left opportunists – may say that taxpayer funded political campaigns circumvent big business from dominating the fundraising process. This argument is hollow and disingenuous at the same time. Big business contributions are balanced by big union PAC contributions.
One day, and I'm sure it will be long after I am dead and buried – or perhaps after the United States falls to Socialism under the weight of all the government entitlement programs mandated by the Progressive-Left, Democrats will come to understand that government is infinitely more important than opportunistic politics. Government is supposed to safeguard our freedoms and liberties, not manipulate the political system for power while extorting funds from the masses for political purposes.
One day, perhaps, Democrats will realize that solutions to problems anchored in good faith ideas are a much better way to garner political power than trying to manipulate the system so the political playing field is skewed in their favor.
Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor. He hosts The New Media Journal on BlogTalk Radio and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, The Bruce Elliott Show on WBAL AM1090 in Baltimore and The Captain's America on WWPR AM1490 in the Tampa Bay area, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. His organization, Basics Project, is partnered in producing the first-ever national symposium series on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!