The Democratic and Republican presidential nominees for 1999 raised an astounding 126 million to finance their campaigns in the primaries (Godfrey). The U.S. national political parties raised a record 107.2 million dollars in soft money contributions in 1999 (Campaign Finance Reform). During the 1995-96 elections, public citizens estimated that an astounding 150 million dollars was spent on "phony" issue ads designed to support or oppose congressional and presidential candidates (Campaign Finance Reform). This outrageous influx of money into congressional and presidential campaigns has placed a blanket of corruption and injustice over our nation’s elections. With the rise of campaign corruption, many citizens and politicians have developed concerns with the current system of campaign finance and are demanding reform. Recently, the issue has surfaced in Washington as the McCain-Feingold and Shays-Meehan bills have been introduced in Congress. The core of the debate over campaign finance reform revolves around the constitutional battle of free speech versus maintaining democracy. While people want to cleanse elections of the increased corruption and monetary influences, concerns of infringement upon the first amendment of the Constitution arise. But, the first amendment has been used as a loophole in politics for too long. While infringing on the first amendment may threaten one of our sacred constitutional liberties, the corruption of campaign elections could eradicate the very democracy that is the backbone of our constitution which provides Americans with such liberties.
The problems that arise with the increased role of money in elections are plentiful. With such a growth in large ind...
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...e reform would hurt powerful minority groups like the NRA or Phillip Morris that wish to improve their situations through political influences. But campaign finance reform would be better for the vast majority. Enacting stricter limits and regulations would allow everyone to have a substantial and equal voice in politics. We must consider the opportunity cost of unlimited contributions to campaigns—the end of our representative democracy. Is that really something that the American people are ready to relinquish? Anne McBride, president of Common Cause, said, "As long as soft money contributions are allowed, big money will drown out the voices of the average citizen, diminishing our democracy" (Campaign Finance Reform). Campaign finance reform is inevitable and the McCain-Feingold and Shays-Meehan bills are both effective tools to start such a necessary reform.
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