DraftRuss.Org Blog

Russ Feingold for President

Friday, March 11, 2005

Get Off My Property, You Brain-Eating Zombie Blog-Haters!

There has been a buzz recently on the internet about how the U.S. Gov't will, in the long run, react to blogs - especially those with political content. Some have speculated that the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law will help those who, essentially, hate internet freedom by allowing them to shut down and fine blogs and political web sites.

Thats not right, and I'm not just saying this as a political blogger. It's one thing to regulate internet-based fundraising, but it's entirely insane to try to classify those who link to a candidate's web site or support a candidate's cause as "contributors to his/her campaign". This debate has been going on mostly between bloggers who are fearful of being wrongfully restricted, and I can understand the concern. It's a big deal to folks like us.

Enter Russ Feingold. Yesterday, Mr. Feingold posted on his new blog at mydd.com. He also promises that he will continue to keep up his blog and respond where necessary. That, my friends, is excellent news.

Here are a few excerpts from Senator Feingold's first blog post:

As one of the main authors of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, also known as BCRA, it is particularly difficult to hear the mistaken belief that the law was somehow an attack on our cherished First Amendment rights. It is not. The law was found to be constitutional and it accomplished what we wanted it to do without infringing on First Amendment rights: stopping Members of Congress from soliciting enormous campaign contributions from monied interests; and reducing the corrupting influence of big money donations. Despite the naysayers, and despite shamefully poor and often deliberately harmful interpretations of this law by the agency charged with enforcing campaign finance law, the Federal Election Commission, McCain-Feingold worked in the 2004 election.

McCain-Feingold and the blogs both had a positive impact on the 2004 election and many people don't realize how similar their impact truly was. Both the blogs and BCRA empowered average citizens. By channeling the power of average citizens to speak out on the Internet, the blogs revitalized the political process last year. In the same way, the power of small contributions was greatly increased by BCRA, and someone who could only send $5 or $50 to a political party has become a sought-after donor. Many parts of BCRA were handled irresponsibly by the FEC, and bloggers are understandably concerned that some members of the FEC may again try to cause trouble by overreaching in the area of free speech on the Internet.

No one is more articulate than Feingold when it comes to explaining the McCain-Feingold law. He knows exactly what it does - and what it doesn't do. We can all expect that he will continue to work on this issue as vigilantly as he has for years to fill in the gaps where applicable.

The FEC must tread carefully in the area of political communications on the Internet. Political news and commentary on the Internet are important, even vital, to our democracy, and becoming more so. For starters, the FEC should provide adequate protection for legitimate online journalists. Online journalists should be treated the same as other legitimate broadcast media, newspapers, etc. and, at this point, I don't see any reason why the FEC shouldn't include legitimate online journalists and bloggers in the "media exemption" rule.

This is dead-on, and I couldn't have said it better. Add this to the list of reasons why Senator Feingold ought to be President in '08.


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