Political Momentum Essay, Research Paper
“Only YOU can prevent forest fires”. This famous quote, by Smokey the Bear, is a statement that essentially defines momentum. Momentum, in the case of forest fires, is detrimental momentum. We’ve all seen the commercial, the bright red Ferrari driving down the road, flicking a cigarette out the window. It rolls onto a pile of dry leaves, and suddenly, the leaf is smoking! Oh no! The leaves have caught fire and it is spreading to a nearby tree! Soon, nearby trees have caught fire, and thus the momentum that results in a forest fire of gigantic proportions begins from a single spark. Such is the case with recent interest in campaign finance reform. Only the momentum it has gained in recent months is anything but detrimental! So, to answer the question, “WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF MEANINGFUL CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM IN THIS SESSION OF CONGRESS?” My answer is that the chances of this are slim to none, however, this answer is somewhat incomplete. Allow me to expand upon this by first, citing past evidence of questionable campaign fund raisers. Second, I will use the examples to explain WHY we need a reform. And finally, I will describe how the recent take off on this large issue has ensured its eventual resolution. First, allow me to cite examples of corrupt campaign financing. The campaiging ‘business’ is not a cheap enterprise. The money that is required to publish and distribute phamplets, hire campaign workers, and buy airtime from the media is enourmous! It has always been a concern of candidates of major elections. More recently however has such a controversy surfaces. Allow me to use this as an example: According to the Sep. 29th 1997 issure of Time, in 1995 and 1996, videotapes were made of presedential coffees with Asian executives, personal donors, and business owners. A total of 103 coffees for the Democrats equals 27 million dollars for their fund raisers. There are more recent events. Accroding to the Oct. 13th 1997 issue of Bus. Week, including Blue Plate Dinners whose prices ran from 1,000 to 10,000 dollars a plate! The most recent developements in the Justice departments research into President Clinton’s phone calls that supposedly prove that he elicited funds from private donors from the White House, thus making it illegal. All this evidence is merely a handful compared to the complete list of occurances. But let me move on to why we need a reform. in the previous point, I described the most recent development in the campaign finance debates. Despite the publicity they have acheived, and despite the public disgust of money and politics, none of it succeeded in mobilizing the public opinion for reform. The war is being waged in Washington. According to the Oct. 20th 1997 issure of U.S. News, the battle is almost strictly partisan. The Republicans against the Democrats. The Republicans claim that a reform would prevent unfair advantages that parties with more funds had over the other. It seems like a gamesmanship struggle. But since, according to the American Government textbook, individuals are only allowed to contribute 1000 dollars maximun, and organizations, 25,000 dollars, shifty fund-raisign practices ensue. “That is what must be stopped,” say the Republicans. A reform would insure that money, preciously spent on campaings could be used for purposes such as Social Security and and reducing the National Debt. Thus, finally, I examine the take off of this issue. Like balancing the budget, a campaign finance reform may still take years of pushing and inertia. According to the Sep. 13th 1997 issue of Newsweek, the drive now has momentum lagislators can’t ignore. For the first time in years, something is being done. Janet Reno has unleashed investigations on shady finance acqusition, and thus both parties are designing fall back strategies in event of a success of failure when the reform proposition finally pulls through the ranks of Congress, though that event be years distant. To review, I first, cited past evidence, and recent evidence of shady fund acquisition including blue-plate dinners and presedential coffees. Second, I said we need a reform becuase the money could be used for purposes other than finance. Social Security could be boosted and the deficeit reduced. And to answer the question, “What are the chances of meaningful campaign finance reform in this session of Congress”, I finally showed how the momentum that this subject has gained in Washington is difficult to ingnore and thus will insure the resolution, though it be years from now. Momentum is not always good, as in the case of the forest fire, but in the case of campaign finance reform, it favors change, and that’s a start.