Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Rich Lowery on the YouTube Election

YouTube’s impact will almost certainly be overrated. Even so, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the FEC attempt to strangle it in it’s crib.

The fact that we are reduced to celebrating loopholes in election laws in order to practice free speech and “electioneering” is pretty grim. After all, wasn’t the First Amendment supposed to guarantee free speech?

Ryan Sager has a piece on the 5th anniversary of McCain-Feingold in the NY Sun. As Mr. Sager notes, McCain-Feingold has failed to reduce corruption, lower the amount spent on campaigns, or level the playing field. Some key quotes:

“Putting aside the ludicrous notion that 535 incumbent politicians sat down and tried to write a piece of legislation that would make it harder to get reelected, five years later there's no evidence electoral competition has increased. Sure, control of Congress turned over. But anyone who attributes the 2006 election to McCain-Feingold, as opposed to Bush-Cheney-Hastert-Frist, is delusional.”

“ … the rise of Internet politics may eventually supercede this atrocity. Witness the anti-Hillary Clinton "1984" ad that caused such a stir on YouTube just last week. Such ads, cheaper than dirt (it costs money to distribute dirt, YouTube's free), will only be more important with every election cycle.

For this reason, look for Congress to start taking an interest in "unregulated" Internet speech any day now. Money has never been the issue. Cleansing our speech of impure thoughts about politicians is the real agenda.”

Incumbent Protection – always the politician’s first priority. That and empowering Dan Rather to set the agenda.