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Why Republicans Really Don't Want Campaign Reform
February 16, 2002
by Eddie Ruff

Ever wonder what so enamors Republicans to soft money?

It's not the nice bribery and corruption that comes with the territory, the greed, the power, the fame, the perks. The love from the biggest most powerful corporations on the planet. As we all know, that gets spread around, albeit not exactly evenly.

No -- it's the ads. No, not the party building ads, you know, the ones soft money was supposed to support? The ones we are supposed to be seeing in the short weeks before election that supposedly "get out the vote" by spurring a slumbering populace to show some "party spirit". The soft money loophole was OK, I guess, as long as that's what the parties did with the money. Show some patriotism! Vote (fill in the blank -- Democratic/Republican etc.) on Nov. 5!

Well, we all know, that isn't how its worked. Soft money has rather been channeled into intense back-stabbing smear campaigns -- often in the last few days before the elections, leaving the hapless candidate little time to counter the attacks.

In fact, smear ads have become so pervasive, voters are actually turning away from politics. They are becoming more and more cynical -- not only due to the headlines and news stories they hear and read every day, but also due to these ads. The main problem is the ads are flooding the airwaves just at the time when people need to act despite their cynicism -- they need to know they have power to enact positive change via the polls.

But some of us don't want positive change. Some of us like smear ads. Some of us want a cynical, nonvoting populace. Who are we? It isn't too hard to see... it's those of us who want to keep the soft money flowing.

And, as we know, the biggest soft money fans are the Republicans. They rail against campaign finance reform, calling the McCain-Feingold/Shays-Meehan bills violations of our constitutional free speech. Since the reform basically stops the soft money that supports the smear campaigns just before elections, it is really easy to connect the dots and see that it is the Republicans who wish to maintain these odious tactics. The Democrats want them to stop. Why?

Well, it would be all nice and flowery to claim that Democrats tend to be more socially-conscious, and merely wish to encourage more people to drop their cynical attitudes and come out to the polls. Ostensibly, to make their voice heard, letting the people speak and the chips fall where they may. Republican/Democrat/Independent/Green Party/Libertarian... it doesn't matter WHO you vote for, just VOTE.

Now, to some extent, this is certainly true. However, Democrats know the secret. It's the same secret the Republicans know, and I'm going to reveal it now.

You see, the more people who vote, the less chance Republicans have of winning.

Why is this? Well, Republicans have a solid 30% base of stalwart party-line voters, who are loyal to a "T" and vote, vote, vote, no matter how many dirty rotten smearing campaign ads they see and hear. They will still vote Republican even if their candidate is accused of being a dwarf-tossing child-molesting widow-raping tree-hugger. (Ooooo - tree hugger -- that's harsh!)

Democrats have a solid base as well... and guess what? It's around 30%. This leaves approximately 40% of the population as the all-powerful "swing voters". These are the ones who decide elections. Unfortunately for the Republicans, they tend to vote Democratic. Unless Ross Perot is running in 1992.

That is, when they vote. We can blame this trend on many things... the Republicans love to target the "liberal media", you know, the big 3 networks, the N.Y. Times, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum. I tend to believe the Democratic philosophy is a bit more attractive to the common people, but then I'm biased. The fact is, the population today is pretty evenly divided, as evidenced by the 2000 elections.

Still, the best weapon the Republicans have to win elections is to STOP the vote. STOP the general population -- the great unwashed swing voters -- from getting to the polls. STOP the uninformed non-affiliates from getting out and making the mistake of electing maybe the wrong person. Don't inform them on the issues. Don't espouse positive party philosophy. No -- to STOP the vote you need to turn voters off. And the best way to do this, time-tested and true, is to keep the smear ads a-comin'.

Voters don't like smear ads. No one does. They are dirty, corrupt, and serve to make the population more cynical and less active politically. Less likely to vote. And the less voters, the less chance Democrats have of winning.

More voters equals more Democrats in office. Fewer voters equals more Republicans in office. The secret is out.

I am of the opinion, but as I said, I'm biased, that more voters is a good thing. I want more participation, and admittedly, not just so we have a better, more informed and active society, but also so the Democrats will win.

Speaker of the House Hastert hit it right on the money when he stated that Shays-Meehan will cost Republicans seats. He knows the secret too.

The best thing to come out of the whole deal? No more of those disgraceful smear ads. The world will truly be a kinder, gentler place.


The author has a B.A. in Political Science and is currently attending law school in California.

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