Re "House OKs Campaign Finance Bill," Feb. 14: Money is the mother's milk of politics. There will never be a federal election free of the influence of large donors. The Shays-Meehan bill merely changes how influence is bought. Public financing of campaigns is even worse. Who chooses who gets the money? Only an aggressively self-informed electorate that goes beyond the superficial presentations of candidates and advocacy groups to gather and assess conflicting points of view can make a fundamental change in how campaigns are waged and won.
The campaign finance problem was institutionalized when the Supreme Court ruled that money is speech and therefore political donations are protected by the 1st Amendment. Money is money and speech is speech. I have no difficulty separating them in my mind. The result of the court's ruling is that those with money get to speak a lot more and a lot louder than others, although what they are saying is often kept secret from the rest of us.
I believe that campaigns should be funded with tax dollars and that candidates and their supporters should get to speak on the public dime. Everyone will get to have their say; members of the electorate can decide on the basis of what they see and hear, and there will be no major contributors with special access or influence. Wouldn't that be refreshing?
Politicians need to reform their personal ethics. Then their political campaigns will finance themselves.
Robert L. Rosebrock
I watched the campaign finance debate in the House Wednesday on C-Span. Mostly, the camera focused on the speakers. However, when they showed the chamber as a whole, it was apparent that it was almost empty! How can our representatives adequately evaluate each issue brought forth unless they are there to listen to the debate? Does this suggest that most of them already have their minds made up (or made up for them by the party bosses and large donors)? I would say yes, and that the debate was just for show.