From the desk of Bob Malkas: McCain-Feingold

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Local Voices

Bob Malkas

In November the United States will be conducting another national election. It will be more consequential than others because of the current break-up of Democrats and Republicans in both Houses of Congress, indicating that a few votes going one way or the other could determine the future direction the nation will be taking. The Senate is now tied at 50-50 and the difference in the House, depending on any one voting day, is less than 10 votes.

History will tell us that American elections are not like those held in Russia, China, Afghanistan, Cuba, or a long list of other countries.

The American people will have an opportunity in 2022 to cast votes to decide which candidates in each jurisdiction will represent them in the next Congress. That is the way our founding fathers intended it to be. The voters go to the polls to elect candidates who will make policies that serve those who elected them.

The elected candidates should understand that they are to represent their constituents and not their party leaders.

Those who lead the country at the time of each election also have a responsibility. All decision-makers in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches must ensure that each election is conducted by the rules. They must show those who vote that election integrity is being maintained.

If election integrity is proven, the nation must be ready to turn the page and accept the results.

Because our elections are so unique, we should understand that anomalies can occur — and have — as in the presidential elections of 1876 and 2000. In those cases, both sides came to realize that a decision had to be made in their conflicted elections if the unity of the country was to be maintained. The election can’t be perceived as a power grab by the party that has one more vote than the other.

The American people on a losing side will understand if they are presented the facts and given opportunities to ask questions and get answers. Chaos is a result when they are told you aren’t owed an explanation. Essentially, “We won so live with it.”

Modern elections have evolved from being of the people, by the people, and for the people into what is of the party, by the party, and for the party. We are constantly being told by them that they know what is best for the American people, yet that can’t be true because they live in a league of millionaires and special interests. They can’t have any idea of what an average American has been dealing since the last election. For them political donations are the life-blood of their worlds and it has been difficult to control that practice.

There have been attempts by Congress to make reforms. The McCain-Feingold Act is one of several federal laws that have been introduced to regulate the financing of political campaigns. McCain-Feingold, which took effect in November 2002, was notable because members of both political parties worked together to create what at that time was a groundbreaking effort to reform American politics. Since its passage though, a number of court cases have chipped away at the heart of what McCain-Feingold was attempting to do, which was to limit the influence of outside money was having on elections.

That attempt to correct the status quo was blunted when the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark decision ruled that the federal government cannot limit corporations, unions, associations, or individuals from spending money to influence the outcome of elections. From then on those who wanted to influence the results of future elections were able to set up a network of independent fundraising groups which could continue collecting unlimited donations not controlled by federal election laws. McCain-Feingold didn’t accomplish what it was intended to do.

One mistake, the legislation didn’t control people and corporations from giving their money elsewhere to independent and third-party groups, which were more extreme and more narrowly focused on highly contentious issues (abortion, gun control, global warming) as ways to pursue their personal interests.

It would be logical to ask Congress to revisit the intent of McCain-Feingold.

Bob Malkas


Local Voices is our version of “Letters to the Editor.” The opinions posted here are those of the writers, and posting them does not indicate endorsement by The Lansing Journal. We welcome input from fellow residents who have thoughtful things to say about topics that are important to our community. Send your submissions to The Lansing Journal with “Voices” in the subject line.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I enjoyed the article written by Mr Malkas and agree with him 100%. I wish this piece could somehow make its way across the entire country. So well written and a reminder to what we should be as a nation.

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