Elections in USA

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In the 2000-2001 election cycle, the issue of campaign finance reform was brought to the forefront by Senator John McCain (R-Az) as his key issue in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. His loss in the primary, however, only delayed a showdown on the matter within the Republican Party. With President Bush in office, McCain has introduced a new version of his reform legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Russ Feingold, a liberal Democrat from Wisconsin (Economist, Jan 2001), slated for debate on the Senate floor sometime in March by Trent Lott, Republican majority leader who, along with most of the Republican leadership, has resisted previous attempts to amend FEC regulations in the past (Pittsburg Post-Gazette 13 Feb, 2001).
The pressure to change the rules is mounting from discouraged voters, corporations, and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to curtail the outrageous expenditures by both parties. The guidelines set forth by the 1974 FEC amendments are said to be out-of-date with loopholes that allow unlimited amounts of unregulated soft money to enter the system. Common Cause estimated that $3 billion was spent in federal elections in this past go-around, up nearly $1 billion from 1996, with soft money totals nearly doubling from $256 million to $457 million (The Nation, 29 Jan 2001).
Chief among the concerns of pro-reformers are candidate-centered issue ads paid for by soft money, which are accused of misleading voters and the marriage of special interests and party candidates through donation of campaign funds. On the other side, those who favor the status quo argue that tighter rules on these funds constitute a clear violation of First Amendment rights. The following will elaborate on these issues and propose a hypothetical “reform bill” that borrows on the points discussed in the McCain-Feingold bill and others. The purpose is to devise a solution, which is both constitutionally acceptable and effective in reducing the current abuses in campaign finance. The reality of the situation is that over-legislation of the multi-billion dollar “industry” of campaigning is not going to change the system overnight, nor will it change the way people vote. But a cautious, common sense approach to reform could be an excellent way to begin to change how elections are conducted.
Those who advocate reform contend that the FECA laws are not eqiupped to deal with the nature of today’s powerhouse campaigns. “This election cycle is the first in history of the current regulatory scheme where the money spent that was not supposed to be spent on elections exceeded the money that is permitted to be spent,” said Joshua E.
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