The Walkerville Weekly Reader

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Walkerville, VA
Monday, November 20, 2017
Carolyn Purcell, Editor

Voter marginalization bill passes House

Bipartisan support pushes breakthrough bill into Senate hands. Supporters on both sides praise separating voters from the political process.

The House passed, 240-189, a bipartisan Voter Marginalization Bill on Valentine’s Day. According to supporters on both sides of the aisle, the bill would increase voter alienation, reduce issues-oriented advertising, and decrease the influence of voters banding together in favor of media influence and incumbent protection. The bill still needs to be passed by the Senate. While some Senators promise impassioned opposition, most observers note that incumbent protection has strong support among most incumbents, who make up the majority of Senators.

The largest point of contention is the distinction between “soft” money and “hard” money, as Republicans favor the latter, and Democrats the former. Both sides are fully in agreement on quieting voters who band together, which the bill labels “special interests”, and voters speaking their minds about issues, which the bill labels “electioneering”. The bill also exempts politicians who feel that they are in danger of losing to a wealthier opponent.

“But should it be illegal for voters to speak their minds?” asked one reporter who was later fired for unrelated reasons.

“If they don’t want me elected, yes,” said Senator John McCain (R-Ariz), “and don’t call it that. It’s ‘electioneering’, and you won’t forget it if you want to keep your media license. Remember, if you aren’t media, talking about politics is ‘electioneering’.”

“Doesn’t it matter that some of these organizations, such as worker’s unions and the National Rifle Association, are made entirely of voters?

“Not voters,” said McCain, “special interest groups. Remember that. And absolutely it matters. The more voters in a special interest group, the more we need to stop their shameless electioneering. Don’t think it’s about guns. It isn’t. I love guns. All of my bodyguards and security details have access to guns. This is about politics. When voters start discussing the issues--I’m sorry, when special interests begin electioneering--politicians and the media lose control.”

An anonymous McCain staffer added in response to a special interest barb, “Of course this is an incumbent protection bill. The Senator is an incumbent. See, that’s why it exempts us if we’re facing a viable opponent. This law isn’t aimed at us. It’s aimed at you.”

Some Republican opponents tried unsuccessfully to poison the new bill by proposing a full ban on soft money. “Their rhetorical argument has always been that soft money is evil,” said one highly placed GOP leadership aide. “We think they're being insincere. They will either agree with us or be exposed as hypocrites.”

The proposal failed.

“That was their mistake,” said McCain. “We don’t mind soft money, we love it. We just don’t want our opponents to have it.”

Soft money is supposed to be used for get-out-the-vote efforts, party building and grass-roots activities, as well as issue ads. “We’ve already built our party,” said McCain. “And the last thing we need is voters and grass-roots issues to deal with. The fewer voters the better in our opinion. Voters simply muddle the political process. They expect responsive politicians. But politicians know what is best for our voters. We should not be expected to answer to them any more than a parent should answer to their children about family decisions.”

One journalist noted that the bill bans discussions of candidates’ stands on all issues, even important issues such as civil liberties, and asked if they would support a proposed amendment to exempt civil liberties discussions from the ban.

“Good god no,” said McCain. “The last thing we want to deal with are issues. There is only one important issue, and that is, who has been handing out the most pork, who has been best able to use national and local events as a media pulpit. Obviously, that’s me. My challenger hasn’t been elected yet, so he can’t.”

“This bill changes the architecture of American politics,” said House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt. “It is one more step towards silencing the individual voter.”

“Special interests,” said McCain.

House sponsor Martin Meehan (D-Mass) agreed. “It is difficult for lawmakers to honestly assess legislation when voters are allowed to publicly discuss lawmaker’s votes on those issues.”

Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis) argued that such issue advocacy “taints the political process.” According to Feingold, “politics is not about issues, and most of us wish the issues would just go away.”

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