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Strict Neutrality
by Thomas A. Droleskey
March 24, 2001

A friend of mine voiced a most interesting observation in the early 1990s when some Jewish leaders were taking New York Mayor David Dinkins to task for his association with some black leaders who spoke in vitriolic terms against Jews. “Tom,” the fellow told me, “my policy is one of strict neutrality in this dispute. I’m just a spectator looking at the events.” Well, I’m observing my own policy of strict neutrality toward the increasingly open warfare between President Bush and Arizona Senator John McCain over a number of issues, including McCain’s flawed, unconstitutional, unjust campaign-finance reform bill, which he has co-sponsored with Senator Russell Feingold (D.-Wis.).

Mind you, it is well known by now that I carry absolutely no brief for President Bush. Naturally, I pray for the president and vice president and their wives and family members. I pray for their conversion to the true Faith so they can be true instruments in the pursuit of the standards of objective justice founded in Truth. Unlike a lot of other folks, however, I have no expectation that the new administration will attempt anything other than a little tinkering on the margins of the life issue. I hope and pray I am proven wrong. I hope I am proven wrong for the sake of the innocent lives that are being snuffed out under cover of law and for the sake of the common moral good of our country, whose conversion to the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ we must try to advance by our prayers and our efforts in the midst of the world in which we live. As I wrote recently, I do not place my trust in princes, whether of the civil or ecclesiastical variety. That way, you see, I am more than pleasantly surprised when some prince in either realm actually gets it right!

But with the Bush-McCain brouhaha, one can simply take a seat in the stands and watch the amazing spectacle unfold. McCain, though a certified hero of the Vietnam War, has become a prima donna of the highest order. The man seems incapable of facing the simple fact that he lost the Republican presidential nomination last year to then-Governor George W. Bush of Texas. McCain labors under the delusion that there is a great popular groundswell of support for him personally and for his cherished goal of campaign-finance reform, neither of which is the case at all. Encouraged by a media throng that helped create his image for him, McCain is bound and determined to press ahead on his particular issues without regard for anything else. As was the case last year with his failed candidacy for the nomination, he gets more than a little petulant when he faces criticism.

Thus far, Bush himself has avoided all mention of McCain, believing quite correctly that to pay attention to his nemesis would only exaggerate McCain’s sense of self-importance in the making of public policy. Bush has embraced the concept of campaign-finance reform sponsored by a former McCain supporter, Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel — a reform that would ban the so-called soft money that can be contributed by corporations and labor unions to a political party’s national committee apparatus — but the president has steadfastly refused to endorse McCain-Feingold. A growing number of Democrats are also emerging in opposition to McCain-Feingold, fearing that their own sources of campaign contributions would atrophy under the measure. Undeterred, McCain holds one news conference after another to try to snatch some of the limelight away from the new administration. McCain has now surpassed former Vice President Gore as the chief resident of Fantasyland: even Gore has accepted the fact he is not president and has faded from public view, at least for the moment. McCain labors under the impression that he is Bush’s equal.

All of that having been duly noted, however, the whole issue of campaign-finance reform is phony from the outset. As I’ve noted several times in the past few years, no level of government (national, state, or local) has any business interfering with a citizen’s efforts to support the candidates of his choice with his own private property, including his money. Individuals should be free to donate as much as they want to a particular candidate or political party. The only reasonable requirement that government could place on donations to candidates or political parties would be full disclosure of the donors and the amount they donated. However, that is it. Period. The whole business of federal and state election commissions is unjust and socialistic. The bureaucratic paperwork required by federal and state election laws makes it especially difficult for candidates of conscience to run campaigns unencumbered by needless bureaucratic oversight, the slightest infraction of which can result in heavy fines or criminal prosecution.

Campaign-finance reform emerged in this country as a result of the hue and cry over the abuses associated with President Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) in 1972, including the break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel on June 17, 1972; money-laundering; and efforts to sabotage the campaigns of candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination that year. Two campaigns especially targeted were those of Maine Senator Edmund Muskie, who had run for vice president alongside Hubert Humphrey in 1968, and South Dakota Senator George McGovern, who had mounted a last-minute challenge to Humphrey at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, trying to claim the mantle of the assassinated New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

In the wake of Watergate, Congress created the Federal Election Commission in 1974. In 1976 the Supreme Court struck down the part of the law dealing with the appointment of the commissioners, in the case of Buckley v. Valeo, but the justices upheld as constitutional the concepts of the commission itself and of limitations on personal contributions to federal campaigns. Naturally, Buckley v. Valeo was as wrong-headed as Roe v. Wade. However, if a court can permit the killing of little babies in the sanctuaries of their mothers’ womb, what’s the big deal about permitting other things that are in plain violation of the Constitution, a natural-law understanding of the purposes of civil government, and just plain, old-fashioned common sense?

Since that time, as we know, there have come to light a number of notorious violations of existing campaign laws, including President Clinton’s White House “coffees” in 1995 and 1996 (which featured international arms merchants, drug dealers, wanted criminals, and agents of the Red Chinese); his dealings with Lippo Group Chairman James Riady; the illegal fundraising phone calls made from the White House by Al “No Controlling Legal Authority” Gore; the Buddhist Temple non-fundraiser fundraiser; and the whole business of contributions made on behalf of the Red Chinese government in exchange for American missile technology, which will one day haunt this country terribly, perhaps exacting a price in blood from us for the killing that continues unabated under cover of law in this country every day. A bevy of Lockean liberals and social engineers — refusing to understand that a political system premised upon the lie of careerism and religious indifferentism is the problem — believe that it is necessary to reform a system of campaign-finance regulation that is flawed from its very inception and in all of its component parts.

No amount of so-called campaign-finance reform is going to resolve the problems associated with money in American politics. American politics itself is the problem. Corporate giants and Big Labor both believe that government exists to help them advance their own respective interests. Most of those who run for office believe they have a God-given right to get elected to whatever office they are seeking (or to be re-elected to whatever office they hold) and are willing to sell themselves to the highest bidder according to the exigencies of practical political expediency. Thus, for the most part those who run for office — along with many of the big rollers who donate huge sums to political parties — are men and women who believe in the Machiavellian principle that the ends justify the means. Our elections and our national discourse are thereby reduced to a clash of interests among various oligarchies, leaving no room for Christ the King and for any serious discussion of First Causes and Last End as the foundation for order in the life of individual citizens and in the larger life of a nation itself.

Although the American system of government and politics is fundamentally flawed, it is what we have at present. Those committed to right principles do have an opportunity, however limited, to speak to the defense of the just moral order as the foundation of the just state in the forum of partisan politics. But the current election laws — with all their unnecessary and failed regulations — make it difficult to mount any real challenge to the perpetual oligarchies of business, labor, and the major parties as the serious players in American politics.

Real campaign-finance reform, therefore, would entail ending all restrictions on donations, ending all state and local and national election commissions created to supervise such donations, and publishing the names of those who donate with the amount donated. Period. That would permit private individuals of substance to support candidates of conscience, providing them with the means to buy media time for purposes not so much of being electorally viable but rather of trying to break through the media shield and speak to issues of fundamental justice founded in the splendor of Truth Incarnate. Although electoral politics is nothing but a sideshow (replete with its own freaks and circus acts), it does provide us with a forum to speak to issues of fundamental justice founded in truth. However, current election laws make it almost impossible for anybody but a wealthy candidate (who can spend as much of his own money as he wants on his own campaign) to gain media access.

I repeat: the only reason we should be involved in this flawed system is to speak to the truth. When spoken in love and with conviction, truth has the power by the grace of God and the light of natural reason to help plant the seeds that might result in the changing of hearts and minds. Indeed, the truth spoken in love and with conviction in the forum of electoral politics might do more concrete good to help souls see themselves clearly as redeemed creatures who must abide by God’s immutable laws than anything a person could accomplish in elected office.

The graces won for us by our Lord by the shedding of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross remain as powerful now as they were nearly two thousand years ago when the Apostles went out into the known world to preach the Gospel. We must rely on those graces to help us — who took the task of apostleship upon ourselves when we were baptized and confirmed — to use every opportunity we can find to proclaim the Cross of our Crucified and Risen Savior to the world in which we live. We can thus be instruments of the only sort of reform that helps any society: the reform of individual lives by free-will acts to love God through His true Church — and that is never a matter of strict neutrality. That is a matter of discharging our duties to be soldiers in the army of Christ, duties that should prompt us to be steadfast in prayer and earnest in our desire to bring all men and all nations into the One Sheepfold of Peter.

Viva Cristo Rey!

This column is distributed by the Griffin Internet Syndicate.
Copyright © Griffin Communications, 2001. All rights reserved.

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