John McCain Sells Out

The Washington Examiner rips into the arrogance of John McCain – and he deserves it. Last week, on Don Imus’ radio show, McCain stated: “I know that money corrupts … I would rather have a clean government than one where, quote, First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I’d rather have the clean government.”

In other words, the First Amendment doesn’t matter if the end is “clean government”.

This sort of thing is so completely against the very foundation of American government that if McCain truly believes this, he no longer belongs in the halls of government. As the Examiner rightly points out, the First Amendment exists precisely to stop people like McCain:

An especially virulent arrogance lurks within the person who proclaims his or her particular understanding of something so imprecise as “clean government” to be preferable to the five core freedoms without which liberty and democracy are lost. McCain will protest this reading of his statement, but the First Amendment is too precious to keep giving him a pass on this issue, as too many in the media have done for too long.

Who decides when government is “clean” enough? How “clean” must government be before politicians like McCain will let the rest of us regain our First Amendment rights? Why does McCain think he knows what’s best for Americans better than we Americans do? History teaches the lesson our founders knew so well — those who put their private political vision above everybody else’s essential freedoms cannot be trusted with the reins of power.

The Examiner is exactly right here – the Founders in their wisdom created a system in which even well-meaning tyrants like John McCain would not be permitted to abrogate our freedoms for their vision of “clean government.” In fact, the Founders also realized that such a concept was in itself an utter myth. As James Madison wrote in The Federalist #10:

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.
It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

What McCain is doing is exactly what Madison warns against – trying to erase the harms of faction by extinguishing the fire of liberty. Through the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act, already freedom of political speech – the most vital form of speech in a democracy – has been squelched in the name of “clean government.” This violation the Constitution and the republican principles that this country was founded upon was bad enough – but now there can be no doubt about McCain’s views on the subject.

This may, and probably should, end McCain’s viability as a Presidential candidate in 2008. Any Presidential candidate who publicly espouses such open contempt for freedom of political expression does not deserve to sit in the Oval Office. Unless McCain is willing to publicly, openly, honestly, and completely disavow this reprehensible view, he has brought shame to what had been a long and honorable career.

7 thoughts on “John McCain Sells Out

  1. You show him! Please, by all means, disassociate yourself from this guy’s Presidential candidacy as swiftly and dramatically as possible and then get behind the Virginia Senator draped in the Confederate flag.

  2. TO be honest, I have to agree with McCain. Its more important that the rich and powerful have less control over government then the average citizen does. If the privelge few control the government it matters alot less what I think and say. I’d rather not be able to donate as much as I want and know that others can’t than know that others can donate as much as they want and dictate government.

  3. I say we should give everyone free ice cream and a pony while we’re at it, but what good will that do?

    All that McCain-Feingold has really done is shunt massive amounts of money into independent PACs, which are less accountable and often more radical than the campaigns and party structures to which the money flowed before. It’s wishful thinking legislation at its best.

  4. The Founders realized that trying to do what McCain would do – make politics “clean” by restricting access just doesn’t work. If someone’s going to pay off a politician, they’ll just as soon do it under the table than do it through campaign contributions. As Madison observed, you can’t limit “faction” (or “special interests” as we say today) by limiting political liberty – which includes the ability to support candidates financially.

    The legal solution is to demand absolute transparency for all political organizations. 527s shouldn’t be able to hide their donor lists, and there should be a record for every political donation as a matter of law.

    The real solution is to do the other thing the Founders based this country upon – limit the size and power of government. The more government gets their noses into our business, the more incentive there is for corporations and special interests to subvert the law for their own purposes. If Congress can’t write special legislation that tilts the playing field towards Microsoft or Disney, or anyone else, there’s a hell of a lot less incentive for those companies to buy off politicians through campaign donations.

    The Founders had the right idea all along, it’s just that we’ve drifted so far from their vision that we’re all too willing to give up our rights to have some mythical vision of “clean government.” McCain’s comments show an astonishing willingness to abandon the First Amendment, and if McCain were to run you can be damn certain that that statement will come back to haunt him.

    I’m still hoping for a Giuliani/Rice ticket in 2008, myself…

  5. A Guiliani/Rice ticket is about as likely as a DeLay/Cunningham ticket. On the other hand, if the GOP nominated two liberals like Giuliani and Rice, it would almost certainly trigger a hard-right third-party candidacy that would sweep the South and much of the West. Suddenly, even a Hillary Clinton candidacy might become electable.

  6. On the other hand, if the GOP nominated two liberals like Giuliani and Rice, it would almost certainly trigger a hard-right third-party candidacy that would sweep the South and much of the West.

    Which wouldn’t happen. Every poll of even GOP partisans shows a huge amount of support for Giuliani. Furthermore, what few defections there might be would be more than made up for by the number of Democratic voters who’d be likely to defeat over.

    If Rudy decides to run, especially if McCain doesn’t, his next step is to figure out what color curtains he wants in the Oval Office.

  7. “Every poll of even GOP partisans shows a huge amount of support for Giuliani”

    That’s because “values voters” don’t know that Giuliani’s to the left of most Democrats on social issues…..and hangs out with his gay buddies after getting caught screwing around on his most recent wife. As soon as Giuliani gets a political identity beyond “the brave guy holding the megaphone at Ground Zero”, his 2008 primary ambitions will be as fruitless as Joe Lieberman’s 2004 primary ambitions.

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