Temporal Front: Bush's reform bill violates rights

Recently, President George W. Bush has done something very harmful to the American way of life.

On Wednesday, he signed a campaign finance reform bill banning soft money in politics and limiting the ability of citizens to run political material on television 60 days before an election.

I am not like many of the Democrats who supported Bill Clinton. I will not stand up and cheer for Bush, even when he does something wrong and violates his oath of office. I am a conservative above all else, and his actions go directly against what is right.

For those who don't know, soft money is money donated to a party instead of a candidate. It has long been unregulated and is donated by corporations and wealthy individuals. Donations are diverted through this "back channel" because personal donations are limited to $1000.

Congress created this soft money by limiting personal donations or "hard money" in the first place.

These limitations on donations and when an organization can run an advertisement violates the First Amendment. The Supreme Court voted nearly 30 years ago in Buckley v. Valeo that money equals speech, and to restrict expenditures restricts speech. By taking away a major source of money for non-incumbents, this bill threatens freedom of speech and protects incumbent candidates.

The president takes an oath to uphold the Constitution. By signing this bill, he has failed at that task. Bush has a responsibility to protect Americans from men like John McCain and Russ Feingold, who have fought for campaign finance reform but have won at the cost of everyday Americans.

Bush had a hard choice to make. With the unfounded accusations by the media and Democrats hanging over his head concerning Enron, he had even fewer options. If he would have rejected campaign finance reform, he would have been called soft on big business.

Democrats everywhere would have accused him of protecting himself and Ken Lay. So, the tired rants of liberals trying to discredit him pushed him to violate the Constitution.

Was it right? Of course not. He had a duty to protect the Constitution and should have used the bully pulpit of the presidency to explain to the American people the damage this bill would do to their rights.

He could have used his 80 percent approval rating to put the eccentric old men of this country to bed along with their foolish accusations. He could have stopped this bill, but he didn't. Those foolish liberal naysayers are partly responsible.

Now the campaign finance reform bill goes to the Supreme Court, which now holds the First Amendment delicately in its hands. It has never looked as fragile as it does now. Liberals and conservatives alike waged war on it for political gain. They too violated their oaths to protect the Constitution.

They're called "Kool-Aid Drinkers" - pundits who stood by Clinton as he did wrong and unbecoming things. It draws meaning from those who take their lives following a cult leader. I am no such person. Bush crossed the line. No matter what my political affiliation, I can see that.

Truman said, "The buck stops here," but Bush has handed it off to the Supreme Court. Whether the president is conservative or liberal, what happened Wednesday was wrong.

One of our fundamental freedoms now rests in the hands of the only branch of government not elected by the people. How unimaginably scary is that?

Write to Russell at rlgreim@bsu.edu


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