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No Reform for the Reformers

It turns out that new political movements, even those with an eye toward alleviating "the corruption of the political process by money," are stymied by the very campaign-finance laws of which folks of their ilk are so fond. Who knew?

The Unity '08 folks are about to find out. And how.

Bob Bauer (if you're not reading his Web site for the latest on campaign-finance regulation and its various grotesqueries, you really should be) gives an amusing account:

The longing for unity and the dream of a better, more consensual politics may not survive an encounter with the federal campaign finance laws. See FEC Advisory Opinion Request 2006-20. Unity 08, a 527, represents this longing and this dream, and it hopes to forge for presentation to the American public a bipartisan ticket and a program broadly appealing to the middle on the "crucial problems" ... facing the country. One of these problems, it states, is "the corruption of the political process by money" ... and it is now before the Federal Election Commission with a proposal that it raise money for its activities without complying with the federal contribution limits. Reform without limits, at least for the reformer: this is a proposal commendable for its candor and freshness, and it may point the way to a new "middle" on reform, which allows for reform packaging but dispenses with bothersome content, such as limits.

Those who want "reform," we all know, are pure of heart. So why should they have to live by the rules they've written for everyone else? The rules are there to stop corruption, and the reformers are -- by definition! -- the antithesis of corruption.

The logic is air tight.

To be fair, the folks on the Unity '08 Founders Council aren't necessarily responsible for McCain-Feingold, but they do declare that: "Both [major parties] are unduly influenced by single-issue groups. Both are excessively dominated by money."

So, sorry guys. But the only way we major-party types can be sure that you're not unduly influenced by single-issue groups and that you're not excessively dominated by money is for you to adhere to all applicable rules and regulations.

After all, you wouldn't want even the appearance of corruption to taint such a promising new paradigm in American politics.