On Sun, Oct 26, 2008 at 2:36 PM, Martin Burns <martin at easyweb.co.uk> wrote: >> The UK and Ireland both have blanket bans on political TV adverts, and >> draconian restrictions on campaign spending (in Britain, for example, >> a candidate for MP is restricted to about £7500 during the period >> between the election being called and polling day). Third-party >> election campaign spending designed to impact a particular >> constituency race is a criminal offence. >> >> We look at the US with some degree of horror and smugness, then. I don't really know anything about the campaign finance restrictions outside the US, but here in the US they (intentionally or not) end up further entrenching the two major political parties and provide a huge barrier to grassroots and third-party movements. As with most any government regulation, it sounds great on the surface, until you start talking about how these things are enforced. There are numerous stories of small grassroots movements in local communities getting shutdown because their posted signage for or against a ballot issue qualified them as a "political organization", and since they didn't register according to the new regulations in McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform, these groups of a few local mothers making signs in their living rooms were fined tens of thousands of dollars and ordered to cease their campaign. Their mistake was not reading and complying with the 750+ page, small-print, double-column book of legalese on how to comply with these campaign finance regulations. > Also, those supporting reform of the electoral process in general, and > funding of election campaigns in particular (of whatever political > flavour) are tremendously impressed with the Obama campaign's ability > to generate a mass movement on the ground, and funding through small > donations. Obama gets his money the same way McCain does. True grassroots funding like that received during Ron Paul's bid for the Republican nomination is exactly what the Republican and Democratic parties do not want to see. Since the parties experienced the effect that Ross Perot had in 1992, they have both worked hard to marginalize true choice; election after election we are presented with a choice between two career politicians, both lacking any clear philosophy except that which is dictated by current polling. Ross Perot was allowed in the '92 debates, and having a third-party candidate in the debates today is completely unthinkable. The change in political climate is not an accident. It's a bit of a case of "fool me once...", and the parties have since learned not to allow such wildcards in the political process. Obama gets some grassroots funding, because he -- like Bill Clinton and many other Democratic candidates in the past -- chant a message of change and hope. The American people are indeed hungry for both of these things, and they're willing to support anyone who says those words, even if the speaker represents more of the same. Similarly, both McCain and Obama talk about ending dependence on foreign oil, just like the last 7 presidents have said they would do in their presidency. We have such a short term memory, and it results in a ton of problems. No one remembers that "change and hope" is not a new slogan. No one remembers that ending dependence on foreign oil is not a new slogan. No one remembers that Bush Jr campaigned on a platform of non-internventionalism and no nation-building. No one remembers that they all supported the Iraq War when it was ramping up and those against it were hippie anti-American idiots. No one remembers the government intervention in the markets over the last couple decades, including increasing regulations encouraging and/or forcing risky subprime lending (that otherwise would not have happened) in the spirit of encouraging American home ownership. I voted a week ago by absentee ballot, and it was a bit depressing knowing that whether I voted for Obama, McCain, or a third-party candidate, I was throwing my vote away. I really don't know how anyone can look at our current political process and say that it's a democratic republic. Time to buy gold, a handgun, and a tin foil hat? I don't know. Maybe it's just time to stop wasting so much effort paying attention. -- Matt Warden Cincinnati, OH, USA http://mattwarden.com This email proudly and graciously contributes to entropy.