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Constitution Animus
by Dennis Campbell
27 September 2003John McCain

On the issue of campaign finance "reform," some "conservative" politicians are enemies of the Constitution.

One is tempted to attribute to liberals a particular animus toward our Constitution and liberty in general. After all, it is liberals who relentlessly violate the First Amendment by vesting the federal government with the power to regulate religious expression by the several states.

It is liberals who have steadfastly used a renegade judiciary to overturn the legitimate will of the people in regard to issues ranging from special rights for homosexuals to the denial of government services to illegal immigrants.

But it has become distressingly apparent that although liberals indeed are arch foes of the Constitution and liberty, even politicians who claim to be "conservative" also find them increasingly inconvenient. If a strict observance of the Constitution and a love of liberty are marks of conservatism, that political philosophy is in danger of near extinction among elected officials.

I am convinced the Hillary Clintons and Chuck Schumers of our nation would gladly abandon the Constitution if they could, because when properly followed it greatly limits their power, and liberals covet power -- raw, unbridled power to remold society, redistribute wealth and control the lives of you and me. They love power, but not liberty.

But power is what attracts people to politics in the first place and power corrupts. And evidently conservatives are subject to its corrosive influence.

Right now, an egregious assault on our Constitutional freedom of speech is being made in the name of "campaign finance reform." This outrageous attempt to restrain free speech was sponsored by a Republican (John McCain) and signed into law by President Bush, whose oath of office requires him to defend the Constitution, not circumvent it.

Campaign finance "reform" supposedly will take "big money" out of elections and return the political process to the people. Balderdash. This is as transparent a piece of anti-free speech legislation we will ever see.

Particularly bothersome is the prohibition against election advertising sixty days prior to a general election. Now consider this carefully: The New York Times, under our freedom of the press, will be able to editorialize against George W. Bush every one of those sixty days with no consequences, and if the Times is not "big money" the term is meaningless.

But if you buy a computer, a printer and a mailing list, and proceed to send direct-mail pieces to voters urging them to vote against Senator McCain, you will be in violation of the law.

Dan Rather can sit in front of a national television audience every night on the CBS Nightly News and load his "reporting" with political commentary, and will face no legal consequences.

But if you go to your local television station, produce a thirty-second advertisement and buy time to urge a vote against Senator McCain, you will suffer legal repercussions.

And now liberals are trying to reinstate the old "fairness doctrine" that forced radio and television stations to offer equal time to opposing viewpoints whenever they ran "controversial" programming or political commentary. Apparently, this form of liberty is entirely unpalatable to them.

Why? Because the vast majority of talk radio is conservative, and people such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity routinely show liberals for the destructive force they are. But what is most disheartening is that many Republicans are hitching their wagons to this train. It seems they are no lovers of liberty, either, and will sacrifice it to silence critical voices.

Should this denial of free speech be accomplished, it will be the death of talk radio, and a great forum for conservative ideas will be gone with the wind, and our liberty will have diminished.

The Founding Fathers had an inspired vision of a constitutional republic, a form of government that freed us to become great. Unfortunately, their vision is not shared by everyone, and our republic, such as it is, has many powerful and implacable enemies.

In their wisdom, James Madison and company knew that the real threat to freedom is not in the display of the Ten Commandments, but in a federal government heavily vested with power.

They recognized that a federal government composed of states governed by a Constitution clearly delineating the powers granted to each would safeguard our God-given freedom.

They were quite aware of the dangers of a powerful judiciary and sought to make it the weakest branch of the government.

Their way was the best way. But it is not America's way now, and we are the worse for it.

Dennis Campbell is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to Internet and print publications

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