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Grassroots Sneaking in the Window

When Congress comes back into session, roughly 60 days before the November midterms, it will essentially be immune from criticism. That's because Congress -- acting, of course, only in the interest of "clean" politics -- passed a ban on ads that mention federal candidates' names in the window 60 days before the general election, as part of McCain-Feingold in 2002.

So, say the Senate takes up an immigration bill granting full amnesty to all illegal immigrants this fall -- it will be almost impossible for grassroots groups to advertise against it, because they won't be able to run ads during this period naming the people who are sponsoring or voting on the bills. Criticizing them by name during this window is against the law. You can't ask voters to "call Congressman [So-and-So]."

It's almost unbelievable, but it's the system we live under thanks to Sen. John McCain.

In a stab at remedying this, the FEC will consider an "interim final rule" later this month to loosen the noose on grassroots advocacy.

However, even these loosened regulations would still be an atrocity. They try to draw a line between criticizing a congressman "as a candidate" and criticizing him or her "as an officeholder." The former is unacceptable, apparently, because it comes with the threat of voting against that candidate (you can't vote against an officeholder, I guess, all you can do is cluck your tongue or write a letter); and that's "electioneering," which Americans aren't allowed to do anymore by our masters in the "reform" community.

Of course, the entire point of grassroots lobbying for or against a bill is that you're supporting or threatening the reelection of a congressman or senator. That's kind of what our entire democratic system is based on. You do what we want, or we try to kick you out.

It's nice to see the FEC trying to do something. But McCain's law is a cancer that the Supreme Court is going to have to remove.