Tom Edsall’s is the latest of a series of pieces purporting to explain the paralyzing conflicts over campaign finance regulation, and his culprit is the Republican Party.  Republicans, he argues, have shifted positions as they have become more dependent on large donations to meet the rising costs of campaigns. And there are more of those massive sums to be had now that the Court has opened the doors to rapidly escalating independent and nonprofit group activity.  Edsall suggests that while the Republican Party was once a leader in the attraction of small donors and partial to mandated disclosure, the GOP has now been driven by self-interest to a position of unyielding opposition to the regulation across-the-board.
Category: Political Parties
Let’s first repay the compliment: Larry Noble is knowledgeable and experienced, and he has devoted earnestly and out of genuine conviction the better part of his professional life to the cause of campaign finance reform.  He has worked and occupied senior positions at Americans for Campaign Reform, the Center for Responsive Politics, and the Federal Election Commission, and he is now at the Campaign Legal Center.
In their new Brookings paper, Tom Mann and Tony Corrado wish to debunk the notion that changes in campaign finance law could temper political polarization.  They dispute the suggestion that more money to political parties would better equip party leaders to run their caucuses.  Then they turn attention to small donors and question the belief that these sources of giving, rallied by “partisan taunting and ideological appeals,” exacerbate political division.  Id. at 15.  In sum, Mann and Corrado warn against relaxing protections against big money influence.  It won’t help strengthen the parties, they say, and it is wrong to assume that a reliance on smaller donations will worsen polarization.
Defenders of faltering campaign finance regulation have been put to the test in answering the widening doubts about the intended or unintended effects of McCain-Feingold. Now they face a new challenge: the need to deny that weakened parties and their leadership could benefit in a polarized politics from enhanced fundraising capacity to counter the influence of outside groups and instill discipline among their members.

Eugene McCarthy: We didn't have any kind of formal links with [the anti-war movement] - you know, they were kind of doing their own thing. In fact, some of them were a little upset when we started the campaign saying we were draining off energy; they were more radical. And they weren't harmful, but they weren't much help to us. So ... I wouldn't say we distanced ourselves from them: we just sort of let them do their own act.”

Interview with Senator Eugene McCarthy (1996)

Harvey MilkI stood for more than just a candidate .… I have never considered myself a candidate.  I have always considered myself part of a movement, part of a candidacy.  I’ve considered the movement the candidate …. Almost everything that was done was done with an eye on the gay movement.

“Harvey Milk’s Political Will” in Randy Shilts, the Mayor of Castro Street (1982).

Category: Coordination