Thursday, March 08, 2007

McCain in 2008?

McCain has got a lot of advantages going into 2008 - he has name recognition and he's got money. But he's also frustrated or angered a lot of the Republican Base, and there are questions about his age. I also not that his foreign policy is essentially the same as President Bush's, so if people are having war fatigue in November, well that's not going to help him very much.

Ken Blackwell, writing at Townhall, seems largely supportive of McCains run but questions whether or not his campaign finance reform might be screwing him now.
Since this early time, political parties have served as large crucibles into which flowed a multiplicity of ideas and from which came a generalized set of political principles. These principles, while altering some with time and circumstance, became the foundations on which candidates ran for public office and a tool by which the public could evaluate their performance in office.

Now, this leavening impact has been taken away in the name of "cleaning up the system." In the name of eliminating "soft money," McCain-Feingold reforms have federalized the entire political process to an extent political parties can no longer carry out their traditional functions. This has led to the proliferation of special interest money flooding the airwaves and filling the message gap left by the restrictions on political parties.

Political parties are no longer a significant source of candidate campaign support. In fact, for federal candidates, their party committees cannot give them direct campaign support such as TV time unless the party sets up an independent expenditure operation and avoids any coordination with the candidate. This makes every candidate a free agent. More importantly, it makes every special interest as powerful as the political party.
I don't know what to make of this. On the one hand I can certainly see how the Party organizations have gotten weaker over time, and maybe that's not a good thing. But then again, it's democratization of the process - before only the Parties were really significant. Now there are thousands of organizations - the next step is to democratize further, such that the power rest really in the hands of the people.

But of course that leaves us with a man in the White House beholden to everyone or, to look at it another way, beholden to no one. Kind of a scary thought I admit.

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