Newt Gingrich is proposing ditching McCain-Feingold and the system of limiting campaign contributions in general. Instead, anyone can give any amount to anyone, but each contribution must be available online within 24 hours.
It’s a sensible alternative to the current messy system of campaign finance rules. As it stands, McCain-Feingold restricts political speech while at the same time creating loopholes for irresponsible 527 groups and others. McCain-Feingold simply doesn’t work, and its ultimate goal of removing monied interests from politics in impossible without destroying the most important kind of speech in a democracy.
What we need is more transparency and accountability. Everyone plays by the same rules, and every voter can see who has given, when, and how much. The reality of the current system is that those who want to buy a politician merely have to go through some extra hoops to do so, and there’s no way of fixing it without dramatically curtailing the right of voters to support the candidates and issues of their choosing. So why bother with restrictions when transparency will ensure that groups like MoveOn.org or the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth don’t get to play by less restrictive rules than the ostensibly more responsible political parties.
The Founders made it clear in The Federalist 10 that it is impossible to remove faction from government, and the surest cure for faction is not by restricting speech but by embracing freedom of speech. It’s a lesson that Gingrich seems to have learned as a history professor. It’s too bad that so few lawmakers don’t seem to understand it.