Listen to the money talk
George Will allows me to punctuate the discussion I sparked about campaign finance reform with a little history about the late Eugene McCarthy's 1968 bid to unseat Lyndon Johnson:
McCarthy's insurgency, the most luminous memory of many aging liberals, would today be impossible -- criminal, actually -- thanks to the recent "reform" most cherished by liberals, the McCain-Feingold campaign regulations. McCarthy's audacious challenge to an incumbent president was utterly dependent on large early contributions from five rich liberals. Stewart Mott's $210,000 would be more than $1.2 million in today's dollars.
McCain-Feingold codifies two absurdities: large contributions are inherently evil, and political money can be limited without limiting political speech. McCain-Feingold criminalizes the sort of seed money that enabled McCarthy to be heard. Under McCain-Feingold's current limit of $2,100 per contributor, McCarthy's top five contributors combined could have given just $10,500, which in 1968 dollars would have been just $1,834.30. But, then, McCain-Feingold was written by incumbents to protect what they cherish: themselves.