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August 7, 2003

politicians are sometimes sincere

Since the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation is clearly benefiting Republicans and harming Democrats, why did most Republicans vote against it and most Democrats support it?

There are cynical explanations. For example, maybe neither party predicted the effects correctly. Maybe they all assumed that campaign finance reform would have to be good for Democrats, and they voted pro and con accordingly. Or perhaps the reform was viewed as bad for incumbents as a group (which it is). Republicans may care more about protecting incumbents, since they have majorities in both houses.

However, I think that a non-cynical explanation is at least partly true. Republicans stood to gain from McCain-Feingold, but most were still against it, because philosophically they oppose state regulation of a financial exchange that they consider completely legitimate. Democrats stood to lose from McCain-Feingold, but most voted for it, because philosophically they oppose private financing of campaigns and they want to regulate donations. Sometimes, arguments and reasons count.

August 7, 2003 12:28 PM | category: deliberation | Comments


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